By Amy Conner
November 2004 -- Surrounded by mountain ranges that soar 10,000 to 12,000 ft. above the arid flatlands of Utah, American Sheep Industry (ASI) Association Vice President and Utah sheep producer Paul Frischknecht will be found getting his daily dose of ?therapy.?
Frischknecht?s therapy doesn?t consist of rounds of golf or extravagant vacations; instead he enjoys tending to his 6,000 head of sheep and his 30,000 acres of land. For most, this would be considered a full-time job, but not for Frischknecht. He also owns a law practice in Manti, Utah, where he has been practicing since 1975.
?One must have a vent of some kind,? says Frischknecht. ?This is my vent, and it?s been good for me in that way.?
Growing up as a ?farm kid,? Frischknecht learned how to be responsible and work hard at a young age. He applied that work ethic to his studies at the University of Utah, where he earned his law degree. Even though he spent a great deal of time on his studies, Paul?s first love was back at the sheep ranch.
Even at that young age, Frischknecht knew that if he was going to continue the family business of sheepherding, he needed another source of income to help provide for his family.
After finishing law school, he moved back to Manti where he started his ranching operation. He purchased 3,000 head of sheep and also purchased his father?s 3,000 head. Since that time Paul married wife, Marla, and raised four children.
As a proud father, Frischknecht has instilled the same values in his children that he learned as a child growing up on the Broken Arrow Ranch.
?It?s a great way to raise a family because kids learn how to work and they learn responsibility,? says Frischknecht. ?Society needs people who know how to work and nothing prepares a person better for that than our industry.?
In addition to tending to his Columbia-Rambouillet crossbred sheep, Frischknecht also has 600 mother cows and a couple dozen chickens. His lambing operation begins in March and continues through May. At that time, a majority of his sheep are driven to the mountains for grazing on more than 300,000 acres of publicly owned land during the dry summer months. Once fall arrives, the lambs are weaned from their mothers and sent to market.
Over the years, Frischknecht has been extremely involved in the agriculture industry on many fronts. Not only is he the current vice president of ASI, he has also served as president of the Utah Wool Growers Association, as national president of the Public Lands Council and as chair of the Bureau of Land Management Grazing Advisory Commission. He has also served on the National Animal Damage Control Advisory Council, the Utah Agriculture Advisory Board, the Utah Big Game Board and the Snow College Institutional Council.
?That?s sort of the way I was raised ? to be involved,? Frischknecht says. ?With my education and generational experience I like to think I can make a contribution to the industry, and sometimes I think I can even make a difference.?
Frischknecht has been involved with ASI for 15 years and is proud of the accomplishments the association has been able to provide for producers nationwide.
?ASI has simply delivered time after time. It?s amazing what we are able to accomplish being such a small industry and there are reasons for that,? says Frischknecht. ?They are because of ASI staff and volunteers, and we also have some dear congressional friends in Washington D.C.
?There is no question about it, ASI does make a difference,? adds Frischknecht. ?Producers wouldn?t have the ewe-lamb program, the slaughter-lamb program or the feeder-lamb program without ASI.?
Government policy for the industry is both an interest and deep concern of Frischknecht?s. Between his law background and his time working in Washington D.C. on a Utah Senator?s staff, he recognizes the importance of producer involvement in policy-making.
?The foremost thing I would like to say to my fellow producers is to be willing to give a little time to the industry ? participate and make your contributions,? Frischknecht notes.
Regardless of one?s stance, Frischknecht encourages every producer to participate in the comment period of industry issues, such as the country-of-origin labeling, the wilderness issue and the roadless issue. He stresses the fact that government processors do read and count every comment.
Although Frischknecht has made many contributions to the sheep industry in the past, he doesn?t plan to quit anytime soon. Being able to tend to his sheep and raise his crop has always been his first love and that will never change.
?It?s an industry that I love,? says Frischknecht. ?It?s my heritage and I?ll do it regardless of what happens.?