Rep. Swanson’s Legacy of Family Farming and Public Service

Missing out on a family wedding or having to reschedule a Christmas dinner is nothing new for Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha), a fifth-generation family farmer in rural Henry County. And whether it’s service to his family farm, service to his community or service to his country, Swanson has always answered the call.

“There’s nothing 8 to 4:30 about farming,” Swanson stated. “There’s something about waking up and smelling the newly turned soil or getting down in there, putting in a long day and coming home to a good pork chop supper that’s something special.”

The Swanson family has been a staple in the Henry County farming community for over a century, dating back to the early 1900s when Swanson’s great-grandfather and two great uncles bought land and started farming. That area near Andover remains in the Swanson family today, with Dan, his brother Steve, son Matthew and nephew Josh overseeing a farming operation that raises corn, beans, oats, and hay. The Swanson farm also has a cow/calf operation, cattle feedlots and hogs. 

“Dad had three simple rules when running the combine,” Swanson proudly recalled. “He doesn’t wash windows; if it breaks down, he calls us to come fix it; and if he has to turn the combine lights on, he’s done for the day and somebody else can run the combine.” Swanson lost his dad this past April.

Swanson and his wife, Tammy, have two married sons. Matthew (wife Sarah) is involved in day-to-day operations on the farm and employed by Barman Seed, and Mark (wife Abbi) is employed by Hefty Seeds and living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dan and Tammy have two grandchildren, Sadie and Reid.

There are long days of work on the family farm and early starts, so by mid-morning there’s a good chance of a needed break time. That’s when Mom will have something ready to get everyone refueled to head back out. “Every morning we go in for coffee about 9:00 and there’s fresh-baked cookies or something,” Swanson added. “Most salesmen know 9:00 is the time to stop in at Swanson Farms.” 

Swanson is currently serving his fourth term in the Illinois House. After enlisting in the Illinois Army National Guard in 1977, Lt. Colonel Swanson served 24 years before retiring in 2001. Since that time, Lt. Colonel Swanson has been recalled to active duty twice, including in 2007 to serve with the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq. While there for one year, Swanson coordinated and synchronized with building the new Iraqi Army and assisted in developing a $1.4 billion first Iraqi Army budget. From 2010-2013, Swanson helped transition the Lead Material Integration Mission from the Pentagon to the Army Sustainment Command. He returned to retirement in April 2013. 

Swanson has previously served as Superintendent of the Henry County Veterans Assistance Commission and Henry County Board. Swanson also served over 14 years on the AlWood Board of Education.

In Springfield, Rep. Swanson’s priorities for the newly-formed 71st District include focusing on supporting agriculture, helping veterans, improving services for rural communities and expanding opportunities for working families. 

“I’ve led the charge for accountability and action at the Quincy Veterans Home following the Legionnaire’s outbreak and more recently holding officials accountable in our veterans’ homes for their handling of COVID,” Swanson stated.

Swanson is a graduate of AlWood High School, Black Hawk Junior College and Western Illinois University. He is a member of a number of organizations, including the Illinois American Legion, American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, VFW, Illinois Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Illinois Pork Producers, National Guard Association of Illinois and Alpha Baptist Church.