2008 Distinguished Alumnus
David A. Swinford
Member, Texas House of Representatives, District 87, Dumas, Texas
David Swinford never thought that he would attend college. He said he couldn’t afford it. Luckily, he talked to Earl Gerstenberger, one of the original faculty members at South Plains College. Gerstenberger was able to help Swinford secure an agriculture scholarship to pay for college.
“He (Gerstenberger) was the best in the world,” Swinford said. “I knew that I wanted to be a vocational agriculture teacher and I’ve never changed my mind.”
A graduate of Frenship High School in Wolfforth, Swinford attended SPC from 1959-61 and received an associate of arts degree in agriculture. He transferred to Texas Tech University where he received a bachelor of sciences degree in agriculture education.
Swinford began his career working for Lindsey Seed Company in Lubbock. In 1967, he took a job as an assistant manager and grain accountant for Farmers Grain Company. He moved to Moore County Grain Company two years later where he was an assistant manager in charge of Moore County Feed, Seed and Fertilizer Co.
In 1975, he started Moore County Grain Handling Company and purchased Moore County Grain Co. With grain elevators in Dumas, Etter, Cactus, Abernathy, Lamesa, Exum and Machovec, his business became one of the largest independent grain companies in Texas.
Additionally, Swinford farmed two sections of irrigated wheat and corn at Shady Acres. He operated the farm for four years and developed it as one of the top farms in Moore County. During the late 1980s, he began the process of selling his grain facilities in Lamesa, Abernathy, Cactus, Exum and Machovec.
He then sold facilities in Dumas and Etter to Dumas Coop and later went to work for the coop as a marketing manager. In this capacity, he oversaw futures trading and contracting with producers and marketed grain to feed yards, feed mills and domestic and export companies.
In 2003, Swinford left Dumas Coop to form Ag-Plus Consulting, a company whose mission is to add value to agricultural commodities.
Swinford was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from District 88 in 1990 and re-elected from District 87 in 1992 after being paired in redistricting. Since then, he has served nine consecutive terms in the Texas House.
As a state legislator, Swinford served on the Agriculture and Livestock Committee from 1991 through 2003 and as chairman for two sessions. Swinford served three terms on the Appropriations Committee and one term on the Appropriations Conference Committee. He has served two terms on the County Affairs Committee. He became chairman of the Government Reform Committee in 2003 at the request of House Speaker Tom Craddick.
“It was a painful topic,” Swinford said. “It seemed that year that we would be looking at a $5 billion deficit. To get out of that, we could either raise taxes or cut waste.”
Swinford added that the committee members would meet daily to review the roles of governmental agencies. “Our goal was to identify duplicate services and to make sure agencies were only providing services they were specified to do or had the authority to do,” he said.
In its work to make state government more efficient and cost effective, the Government Reform Committee has been credited with saving billions of dollars since 2003.
Swinford was appointed chairman of the House Committee on State Affairs for the 2005 and 2007 sessions. The committee drafted legislation that protects family values and addresses other important statewide issues. In 2007, this committee carried the Border Security and Immigration Bill.
“The State Affairs Committee is like the moral conscious of the state,” Swinford said. “I believe parental rights are special and need to be protected. I believe in protecting marriage between a man and a woman. And, young girls should not have abortions without their parents’ consent. These are issues that have been addressed by this committee.”
For his hard work, leadership and contributions, Swinford has a lifetime membership with the Texas and National Future Farmers of America. He served as chairman of the Dumas FFA Booster Club. He is a member of the North Plains Red Raider Club. Swinford is a past director of the Dumas and Moore County Chamber of Commerce. He is a past president and trustee of the Moore County School Board and Moore County Livestock Association.
Swinford is a partner for life of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. He has also served as drive chairman for the United Way. He served as building fund co-chairperson for the Memorial Nursing Home and Rehab Center in Dumas.
Swinford has received more than 55 awards for legislative service from a host of regional and statewide organizations. In this past legislative session, he was named the 2007 Legislator of the Year by the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, the Champion of Border Security by the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition and the Fighter of Free Enterprise by the Texas Business Association. He has been honored by the Friends of 4-H, Texas Licensed Child Care Association, Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Texas Rehabilitation Commission, Texas Future Farmers of America, Texas Extension Service, Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association, American Wind Power Association, Texas Right to Life Committee, Texas A&M University System, Texas Tech, West Texas A&M University and now South Plains College.
“I want young people to know that they don’t have to go to a major university right out of high school,” Swinford said. “They should go to a good community college to figure out what they want to do in life.
“South Plains College helped me a lot,” he said. “I’ve always said that the curriculum in the community college was tougher than the four-year college. I received a great education and I’ve made good choices. That’s what you take away from a community college.”
Swinford and his wife, Joyce McCoy Swinford, are the parents of two children. Their son David is a minister, missionary and dean at Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock. Their daughter Melissa Bates is assistant director at the Dumas Campus of Amarillo College. They have four grandsons: Alan and Daniel Swinford and Phillip and William Bates.