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Daniel Jossund has his own baling business.

Kevin Schulz

November 21, 2023

4 Min Read
Daniel Jossund holding two plaques he won at the National FFA Convention
PRESTIGIOUS PAYDAY: Years of hard work and a lot of support paid off for Daniel Jossund when he was named American Star Farmer at the 2023 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. Courtesy of National FFA Organization

Standing on the stage at the National FFA Convention, having just being named the American Star Farmer, is the culmination of a journey that Daniel Jossund started when he was 14.

“Growing up on a diversified crop farm, I always wanted to farm, always knew that's what I wanted to do,” says the 20-year-old Jossund. At 14, he bought his first small square baler to join his brother Andrew, who had been getting spending cash by baling a couple of thousand wheat straw bales a year.

The baling brothers made and sold about 6,000 to 8,000 square bales a year for a couple of years, and then Daniel bought a round baler. Andrew’s interests changed, steering him into the auctioneering business, and Daniel bought out his older brother’s portion of the business.

He purchased 150 acres, and rents another 300 acres where he grows soybeans, corn, wheat, sugarbeets and alfalfa. “My family had never grown alfalfa, so that was a little bit of a learning curve,” he says. “It was a pretty tough start when I dealt with some pretty cheap equipment and a lot of breakdowns.”

In addition to learning the hay and straw game, he also learned farm life lessons, such as maneuvering the Farm Service Agency’s low-interest loan processes, allowing him to upgrade equipment. He also learned the goodness of neighbors willing to share their advice and knowledge.

With no livestock on the farm, the wheat as well as its straw and the alfalfa bales are all cash crops for the young farmer.

In the spring of 2022, he bought a big square baler, because of good timing. His own baler had broken down, and a neighbor called “to see if I was interested in squares, as a friend was selling his. I tried it out and loved it,” he says, “so that’s kind of my bread and butter now, the three-by-three squares.”

Jossund trucks a lot of the hay and straw bales with his own semi, but he also sells bales through brokers. All of his hay is gone, but he has lots of straw left. “I’ve got a couple broker trucks a week that come and pick up loads, and I haul when I can,” he says.

This year he put up 2,500 straw big squares, 1,000 straw round bales and 5,000 straw small squares in addition to 70 acres of alfalfa.

The young Jossund operates the hay business on his own, with one hired man, but he works with his parents John and Lorraine on the crops side.

The Ada-Borup-West High School graduate is a junior at North Dakota State University, which is about a half hour from the Jossund farm near Perley (Minn). Upon graduation with an agribusiness degree, he plans on returning to the farm, and the baling business is not going away. He knows his dad is not ready to retire, “and I don’t think there would be enough to comfortably farm full time right away after college. … That’s actually part of why I tried to build the baling business. It gives me another source of income, but keeps me on the farm and being in some extra cash.”

With extra cash in mind, Jossund’s familiarity with heavy equipment landed him a part-time job running a payloader to clear snow in Fargo, home of NDSU.

Start to Star Farmer

Jossund’s inspiration to shoot for the American Star Farmer honor started when he attended the National FFA Convention as an eighth grader with the Norman County West FFA Chapter.

“We went to the session where they named the Stars, and I was just blown away by some of the businesses that these FFA kids had, and the amount of money that they had made, and the equipment that they own — and in just how they were farmers at such a young age just blew me away,” he says. “And I thought ‘That’s super inspiring,’ and to be on that stage would just be unreal.”

Norman County West High School in Halstad closed after Jossund’s freshman year, after which he started school at Ada-Borup-West High School.

Though he has done the work on the farm, that alone didn’t earn him the Star Farmer award. It took guidance from his FFA advisors, past and present. Even though he was under Rita Olson’s tutelage for just two years at NCWHS, she played a major role in encouraging Jossund down the path. Abbie Savage, FFA adviser at ABWHS, picked up when Jossund came in as a sophomore and further guided him.

Savage suggested that Jossund apply for the state Star Farmer honor (which he achieved in 2021), which is the first step toward qualifying for the American Star Farmer. Throughout that process, both Savage and Olson worked with him. “I would say that I had the passion for wanting that award for sure,” he says of the American Star Farmer award. “But they helped me facilitate it to do what I needed to do to get there.”

The four American Star Farmer finalists are each allowed to have two advisors on stage for the big announcement at the convention, and he so honored both Savage and Olson, who now teaches agriculture at Rothsay High School, since they each played integral roles in his achievement.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

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