|Superior Farms, Davis, Calif., Greg Ahart, National Director, Producer Relations
(February 1, 2011) Superior Farms, an employee-owned company, is the largest lamb harvester/processor in the nation. The company started with a single facility in Ellensburg, Wash., in 1963 and has enjoyed consistent growth, which continues today. It has full-service facilities in California, Colorado and now Iowa since it announced the acquisition of Iowa Lamb (now Superior Iowa) in October of 2010. Superior also has smaller operations in Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston, thereby operating facilities in every time zone and giving it an advantage of being able to quickly provide fresh American lamb to most of the large metropolitan areas in the continental United States. It is proud to be a 100 percent employee-owned company and was recently named the 2011 California/Western States ESOP Company of the Year and will be competing for the national award, which will be presented in Washington, D.C., this May.
Why is Superior an ASI Guard Dog member?
“We realize that in order for this industry to survive every level inside it must be strong, our issues must be heard and we have to maintain an active political voice and involvement. We all need each other, and we are committed to helping all sectors thrive. By contributing funds to the Guard Dog fund, we are helping ASI (American Sheep Industry Association) help the producers to make sure that their position and our industry have that necessary voice on political issues.”
How do you think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog program?
“The Guard Dog program has helped the industry maintain its “seat at the table” and the ability to weigh-in on policy and programs. The sheep industry is heard on Mandatory Price Reporting, predator control and Wildlife Services issues, national animal identification, country-of-origin labeling, the Farm bill and a whole host of other government-related programs. Without that voice, for example, the ewe-lamb retention funds from a few years ago, governmental purchase of lamb products and the American Lamb Board would have never even happened.”
What do you think are the industry’s biggest needs for the future?
“Numbers and succession planning are what we see as the biggest needs for the future. We’re slowly losing the infrastructure out of the industry. Processors, wool handlers, equipment manufacturers and feed companies with a focus on sheep nutrition are all falling by the wayside. Politically speaking, the industry continues to receive pressure on animal rights, public-lands usage and endangered species concerns, predator control and a host of other factors that make being in the business more challenging. We need to be able to attract successive generations of producers and maintain the numbers necessary to keep the infrastructure viable. ASI needs to have the ability and the voice to remind people that the original animal rights activists were the ranchers that owned the animals and the original stewards of the land were the people that used that land.”
Established in 2001, the Guard Dog Program utilizes the recommendations and donations of dedicated industry individuals to address a variety of issues. We hope you enjoy learning about these individuals, their business and their foresight for the U.S. sheep industry. If you would like to become a member of the Guard Dog Program, contact the American Sheep Industry Association at 303-771-3500 or email@example.com.