|Art and Jill Swannack, Lamont, Wash
Provide a brief description of your operation.
Art and Jill Swannack run a flock of 980 ewes with daughters, Carmen and Leah, and son, Owen. The flock is primarily Polypay, with a few Suffolks thrown in for junior show lamb needs. The Swannacks have started crossing Polypays with Targhees for replacement ewes to help maintain frame size and improve their wool clip. Market lambs are primarily Suffolk crosses. The Swannacks have been marketing primarily to a firm in Canada the last couple of years, as they like the 118-pound fat lamb the family produces. They also sell through the local pool hosted by the Spokane Area Sheep Producers. In addition, the Swannacks farm 1,300 acres of wheat and 100 acres of alfalfa.
Why are you an ASI Guard Dog member?
“We became an ASI (American Sheep Industry Association) Guard Dog member because we felt we owed some money from registration at the Reno convention. You see, I filled the registration form out and never sent it in. ASI graciously accepted our registration at Reno. Since then, we have seen the benefits of the Guard Dog fund, especially in funding ASI’s Legislative Action Day trips to D.C. We believe it is very important for members of Congress to see and hear from producers. As one staff aide told me, there are some very smart people in D.C., but they don’t necessarily know how things really work in the fields and farms. They need to hear from each of us to put the proper pieces and policies in place.”
How to you think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog funds?
“We believe the Guard Dog funds, being unrestricted funds, allow ASI to quickly target areas of concern. For example, the Farm Bill sections applying to shepherds might need extra effort to get passed, so Guard Dog funds allow ASI to work harder in those areas. Similarly, the recent lawsuits against the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Idaho claiming domestic sheep are hurting bighorn sheep may be a new area of need for these funds.”
What do you think are the industry’s needs for the future?
“The biggest needs in the next couple of years are likely to be the bighorn lawsuits, finishing the Farm Bill and promoting the prescribed grazing efforts. We need to have the outside world see sheep as a benefit to the landscape. Properly managed sheep do a lot of good for our grasslands and forests. Public opinion always drives policy and politicians, and if we aren’t present, someone else will be.”
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 businesses 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.