Tri-Point FFA member Tyler Loschen is one of four finalists for the American Star Farmer award. Loschen’s FFA projects include corn, soybean and alfalfa production, as well as a Simmental cowherd and a farrow-to-finish swine operation. The American Star Farmer will be named on Saturday, Nov. 2, during the eighth session of the National FFA Convention.
Tri-Point FFA member Tyler Loschen is one of four finalists for the American Star Farmer award. Loschen’s FFA projects include corn, soybean and alfalfa production, as well as a Simmental cowherd and a farrow-to-finish swine operation. The American Star Farmer will be named on Saturday, Nov. 2, during the eighth session of the National FFA Convention.

CULLOM, Ill. — Tyler Loschen has built his FFA projects from the ground up.

“Probably the most unique aspect about my project is I come from an agricultural family, but I didn’t grow up on a family farm,” said Loschen who has been selected as one of four finalists for the American Star Farmer.

This award will be presented during the National FFA Convention, set for Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Louisville, Ky.

The three additional finalists for the American Star Farmer award include: Tyler Vathauer: Blue Valley FFA, Kansas ; Tyler Linneman: Keytesville FFA, Missouri ; and Vance Zacharias: Enderlin FFA, North Dakota .

“Both my grandparents farm, but they live at least 40 miles away, so I didn’t have immediate family close to me that I could tie into,” explained Loschen, who is a member of the Tri-Point FFA Chapter.

However, his parents, Gary and Diana Loschen, owned 80 acres of farmland. His mother also is his FFA adviser.

“Previously, it was cash-rented, but when I got to high school, my parents decided to farm it and they let me rent 20 acres to start my project,” he said. “And from there, a neighbor landlord was eager to help a young farmer get started, so I picked up some additional ground.”

Today, Loschen farms around 400 acres, growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

“I purchased 40 acres at a public auction last winter,” he said.

In addition, Loschen owns a registered Simmental cow-calf herd and a farrow-to-finish swine operation in partnership with his sister, Amy.

“We typically farrow 20 to 30 litters per year, and we have Durocs, Yorks, Hamps and crosses,” he said.

“Our main goal is to market animals through the showring by either showing them or selling them to other junior exhibitors,” he added. “With a small operation, we try to capitalize on a premium to be profitable.”

Loschen was inspired to work toward achieving the star award from Illinois FFA member Andrew Bowman, the 2006 American Star Farmer.

“Andrew came and spoke to us at school, and he told me how he got started,” Loschen said. “I thought it would be really neat to do something like that, so I worked with my adviser and I was fortunate to have some growth in my projects.”

“It is gratifying to see all the years of hard work pay off, Loschen said.

“To be recognized as a finalist is a huge accomplishment, and it’s very exciting,” he added.

Loschen is not quite sure what to expect when he meets the other American Star Farmer finalists.

“They are certainly going to be young entrepreneurs that are doing an excellent job,” he said. “It will be neat to meet them and learn about their projects.”

The FFA member held several offices as a member of the Tri-Point FFA Chapter, and he was heavily involved in livestock judging.

“I attended Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield on a full-ride livestock judging scholarship,” he said. “After completing the two-year transfer program, I transferred to the U of I, and currently I’m on the U of I livestock judging team.”

This will not be the first time Loschen travels to the National FFA Convention as a finalist for a major award.

“I am a two-time national proficiency winner in diversified crop production and diversified agriculture,” he noted.

In 2010, the Tri-Point FFA member won a trip to Costa Rica.

“That was a really neat experience to see the way ag works in a different part of the world,” he said.

“Here we’re focused on corn and soybeans, and in Costa Rica there is a lot of fruit production, especially pineapple,” he added. “The fresh pineapple out of the field is remarkable compared to what it is here. I never will look at pineapple the same.”

In the summer of 2012, Loschen interned with Beck’s Hybrids.

“I worked a lot with the practical farm research partners, and we did a lot of fungicide and late application of nitrogen tests,” he said. “It was a great experience, and I’ve already used things I learned to make better management decisions this past year.”

This past summer, Loschen worked with Dow AgroSciences as a Mycogen Seeds sales intern.

“I was fortunate to receive a full-time opportunity with them when I graduate,” he said. “In June, I will be part of the Mycogen sales team.”

Loschen, 22, is a senior at the U of I, where he will complete his bachelor’s degree with a major in farm management and a minor in animal science in May 2014.

After graduation, he will be based close to home with his new position.

“Eventually, my goal is to farm full-time, but the acreage is not there for me right now,” he said. “This sales position has a flexible schedule, so it meets my needs to still be able to farm.”