|Pat Tirrell, Tirrell Centennial Farm, Charlotte, Mich.
(June 1, 2010) Tirrell Centennial Farm is a seventh-generation farm located just outside of Charlotte, Mich. The operation currently raises about 500 ewes and feeds out its lambs. For years, the Tirrells have been involved in direct marketing lambs to ethnic buyers from surrounding urban areas. Recently, the family has also started a small sheep dairy, producing its own artisan sheep cheese. The Tirrells sell these from their own small storefront to local customers.
Why are you an ASI Guard Dog member?
“I decided to become a Guard Dog member because I see all the challenges facing production agriculture and the sheep industry. Here in Michigan, we face numerous issues in the interaction between population and farms. Everything from environmental regulation to animal rights issues to the use of antibiotics threatens the viability of the U.S. sheep industry. I think supporting efforts like ASI’s (American Sheep Industry Association) Guard Dog Fund are necessary to insure the future of family farms like ours.”
How do you think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog funds?
“It seems to me that the Guard Dog Fund has been effective in representing the interests of sheep producers on numerous national problems. In a world where I see even more such issues arising in the future, this fund and the work it does are more important than ever. Many national groups are working very hard against our interests and those of other agricultural producers; we have to be ready to take these types of organizations on in Washington.”
What do you think are the industry’s biggest needs for the future?
“To me, the biggest need of the U.S. sheep industry in the coming years exists in terms of marketing. The American Lamb Board is already making some great strides in this regard, but we need to keep working on exposing the public to what a fantastic product American lamb is. Another issue that goes along with this is insuring that we maintain our processors. Without an array of meat processors competing for our lambs, the kind of growth and acceptance we need to achieve in the American diet will not be possible.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.