The late John W. Morris invested countless hours spanning decades educating political leaders about issues important to Alabama Farmers Federation members.
This true grassroots leadership earned Morris the organization’s highest honor, the Service to Agriculture Award, presented posthumously to Morris’ son, Johnny, during the Federation’s 100th annual meeting in Montgomery Dec. 5.
“It is the ultimate honor for someone who made agriculture his life’s work to receive this award,” Johnny said. “This was his heart — farming — and the way of life that goes with that. He was resolute in his drive to educate the young and the old alike. On behalf of the Morris family, we thank this organization for honoring our father’s life’s work of over 40 years with the Farmers Federation.”
A U.S. Navy veteran and lifelong farmer, Morris understood how decisions made in Montgomery and Washington affect agriculture. Morris’ work in that arena as Jefferson County Farmers Federation president vaulted him to the state board in 1984, where he represented District 5 until being elected North Area vice president in 1992. In 1997, he was selected to chair ELECT, the Federation’s political action committee — a position he held until leaving the state board in 2000.
“Above all, he was an advocate for the farmer,” Johnny said. “He kept his finger on the pulse of legislation that would negatively affect agriculture and food production in our state and nation.”
Never one to rest on his laurels, Morris became Jefferson County Farmers Federation president again in 2015, serving until his death Feb. 15, 2021, at age 82. Under his leadership, Jefferson County revitalized its Ag in the Classroom, Farm-City and agricultural education programs — demonstrating Morris’ vision for developing future ag advocates.
Since 1921, the Federation has magnified the voice of Alabama farmers through grassroots leaders such as Morris. Federation President Jimmy Parnell said Morris daily demonstrated his conviction in continually growing one of the organization’s greatest strengths — relationships members have with elected officials from the courthouse to the State House.
“No one understood and utilized this influence better than John,” Parnell said. “He was devoted to helping grassroots leaders cultivate connections with decision-makers.”
Morris is survived by his wife of 42 years, Pauline; six children; 14 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.