February 2005 -- 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.
Name: Stan Potratz, Premier Sheep Supplies, Ltd.
Family: Potratz is the CEO and his wife, Jean, is President
Location: Seven miles southwest of Washington, Iowa, in the broken land above the Skunk River
Operation: Potratz operates a 160-acre grass farm. He runs 200 head of ewes, 25 meat goats, five horses and summer-grazes a neighbor's beef cow herd. The most important product of this operation is the continuous field-testing of Premier?s existing and new products, such as fences, feeders, ear tags and more. It also provides extra value as a source of photos for Premier?s booklets and online store; saleable animals is a secondary product.
Why are you an ASI Guard Dog member? ?Premier Sheep Supplies is convinced that the U.S. sheep industry in all its aspects (farm, range, show, fiber, dairy flock, feeder, packer and retailer) needs a national organization(s) to hear the concerns of its members, organize them into a coherent package and pass these along to public and private people who are able to produce the changes needed. Dollars provided via the Guard Dog fund are part of making this possible.?
How do you think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog funds? ?Most notable in recent years, has been ASI?s success in persuading federal and state officials to support the sheep industry during the years in which lamb and wool prices were below profitable levels. Guard Dog Funds were part of this.?
What do you think are the industry's needs in the future? ?We need to shape U.S. lamb and wool toward becoming products that are complementary (in type, perceived taste and eating experience, price and season of availability) to that offered by Australia and New Zealand. The U.S. demand for lamb has space for lamb from all sources, but we must move to take maximum advantage of our location, breed diversity and production system.?
Name: Joe Harper, manager of Allegheny Farms
Location: Seneca Rock, W.Va., in the Allegheny Mountains of the Appalachians
Family: Harper?s family has been engaged in farming for eight generations. Sheep have always played an important part in their enterprise.
Operation: After Harper started managing the farm in 1971, they expanded their ewe flock to 400, and now, they also feed more than 500 purchased lambs. Allegheny Farms summers more than 500 feeder cattle and has a bred heifer program of more than 60 head. This grassland operation provides both sheep and cattle good pastures, ample water and a cool climate.
Why are you an ASI Guard Dog member? ?I know our sheep industry needs a strong voice and a strong leadership. ASI (American Sheep Industry Association) was struggling after the Wool Act was terminated and funds were tight. The 2001 Committee, of which I was a member, realized there were a lot of producers dedicated to the industry and who would probably be willing to support the industry financially to a greater degree than only dues. Those were my sentiments, and the theory was correct.?
How do you think the industry has benefited from the Guard Dog funds? ?The Guard Dog fund and membership is really expanding. Hopefully, the fund will allow ASI to get involved in very important issues for all of us that without the increased funding, it could not pursue.?
What do you think are the industry?s needs in the future? ?I think our industry and ASI have made some very significant and positive steps in the last five years. Any organization has strength if the industry is united, has excellent leadership and a large number of members. Our industry is united, we have strong, effective leadership, but the number one need in my judgment is more members.?