As John H. Dorrill Jr. drives a pickup truck through his Pike County pasture to feed cows, it’s hard to imagine that the lanky, soft-spoken man can turn into a bulldog when it comes to politics. But ask anyone who knows him well, and they’ll tell you he can transform in an instant when he gets riled up.It is that dogmatic nature, his long-time service to the Alabama Farmers Federation and a genuine love for farming that earned Dorrill the Special Service to Agriculture Award presented to him during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s 82nd annual meeting in Mobile Dec. 8.Flanked by his family, Dorrill, the former executive director for Alfa Farmers, was gracious as he accepted the award from Alfa President Jerry Newby. And while he was appreciative of the award, he also used the opportunity to remind those gathered for the meeting that neither he, nor the organization, could afford to rest on past accomplishments.”There are those who right now are trying to raise our taxes and take away the exemptions that we fought so hard to get,” Dorrill said. “It’s more important than ever that we watch everything they do in Montgomery because it could change farming in Alabama forever.”Dorrill’s history with the Federation dates back more than four decades when he joined the Federation staff in June 1955 as an area organization director. When the late J.D. Hays was elected president of the Federation in 1961, Dorrill became the organization’s lobbyist and assistant to the president. About that same time, Hays and the Federation’s board of directors began to look closely at membership–how to increase it and how to better serve those members. Much of that direction was carried out by Dorrill.The late Goodwin Myrick was elected president of the Federation in 1978, and Dorrill’s title changed to executive director, a position he held until his retirement at the end of 1998.Dorrill helped form the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Young Farmers Program and ELECT–the Federation’s political action committee. His political prowess also helped tackle tough issues like sales tax exemptions on agricultural items, current use tax legislation and the lid bill. Commodity checkoff legislation was written and implemented during his tenure with the Federation, and he helped establish important farm programs such as the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, Dairy Marketing Association and the Alabama Milk Control Board.Since his retirement, Dorrill’s knowledge of politics, combined with his organizational skills, still is making things happen, and he can still preach a sermon when the cause is right. This past summer, he worked tirelessly in the fight against Amendment One and organized a large anti-tax rally in Pike County that helped defeat the billion-dollar tax package.He continues to work for agriculture and charitable organizations with the help of his wife Carol. The Dorrills have turned their barn at Clay Hills Farm in Pike County into a “community center” where they host many community, agricultural, forestry and family events.
Dorrill Honored For Service To Agriculture