Following the passing of his father in 1951, L.O. Bishop, a native of Bishop, Alabama, began farming at age 15. He made his first full crop in 1954, and got married the same year. He has produced 39 cotton crops over the course of his farming career. From 1963 to 1965, he averaged two bales of cotton per acre – and has done so many years since. In 1994, he began no-tilling corn, soybeans and wheat. Bishop now farms more than 700 acres of timber and row crops.
But he has been best known as one of Alabama’s leading pork producers. He started raising hogs about eight years into his farming career, and at the operation’s peak, he maintained 200 sows and sold more than 4,000 market hogs annually. He is also known for his mouth-watering Bishop’s Barbecue, which has gained him notoriety outside of agricultural circles.
In 1966, Bishop and his wife, Grace, were among the first selected by the Alabama Farm Bureau as Alabama’s Young Farm Family of the Year. In the years since, he has served tirelessly as a well-known and respected ambassador of agriculture in his state and throughout the country.
His service has included appointments as the Alabama Farmers Federation’s District I director for 14 years, North Area vice president for 14 years and Colbert County president for 48 years. In 1977, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System presented him with its Agricultural Leadership Award to honor his leadership and public service in agriculture, agribusiness, 4-H and related areas vital to his community.
In honor of his service to his local community, The Times Daily newspaper in Florence named him one of the Shoals area’s top 10 leaders in 1986. Two years later, the Shoals Chamber of Commerce named him the Shoals Citizen of the Year for his contributions to area communities.
In 2013, the Alabama Farmers Federation recognized Bishop with its Service to Agriculture Award, the highest honor given by the organization. He was called an icon of the Federation when the award was presented at the Federation’s 92nd annual meeting.
Bishop and his wife, Grace, still live on the farm where he spent his childhood and began his career. They have three children – Darlene, Patti and Luther – as well as six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.