John H. Dorill, Jr.
You can call him politically correct. He has rubbed elbows with senators, governors and presidents — both Republican and Democrat. And through his endeavors he, too, has become a political figure. John Dorrill is one of the key individuals who has helped shape farming and farm-related politics in Alabama.
Dorrill, whose father was a Pike County sharecropper, graduated from Pike County High School. After attending Troy State University for seven months, Dorrill served two years in the Army during the Korean War. When he returned to Alabama, Dorrill enrolled at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University, and two years and seven months later had earned a degree in agricultural economics.
Three months after his graduation from college in 1955, Dorrill accepted a job with the Alabama Farmers Federation (then Farm Bureau) as an area organization director. In 1961, he was promoted to the position of lobbyist for the organization as well as the assistant to the president. In 1978 when Goodwin Myrick was elected to president of the Federation, he changed Dorrill’s title to executive director. Dorrill served in this position for 20 years until he retired in 1998; he had been with the Alabama Farmers Federation for a total of 43 years.
While with the Farmers Federation, Dorrill helped form the Young Farmers Program, the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and ELECT, which is the Federation’s political action committee. Dorrill was also instrumental in lobbying for legislation establishing the ad valorem tax structure, property tax classification, the Lid Bill and the Current Use Law. The Boll Weevil Eradication Program, the Dairy Marketing Association and the Alabama Milk Control Board were also established during Dorrill’s tenure at Alabama Farmers Federation. Dorrill, however, will not take sole credit for any of these accomplishments; he stresses it was always a team effort at the Federation.
The Alabama Farmers Federation not only provided Dorrill with a sound and successful career, but it also indirectly brought him a wife. He and his wife, Carol, met in 1965 during her reign as Miss Alabama Agriculture. The couple has two sons, John III and Lee and one daughter, Rachel.
Since Dorrill’s retirement, he and his wife have moved back to Pike County to the family farm land they call Clay Hill Farms. There, they own approximately 1,500 acres. Although Dorrill has recently given some of that land to each of his sons, he still farms 200 acres of hay, 150 acres of pasture land and has 30 acres in TREASURE Forest land. The Dorrills have also transformed the barn at Clay Hill Farms into a rustic community center; they enjoy hosting class and family reunions, 4-H functions, TREASURE forest meetings and many other local get-togethers.