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"J. Paul Till, Director, Information Department"
334 613-4313

MONTGOMERY St. Clair County pork producer Frank Morris has been selected by the Alabama Pork Producers as Alabama's Pork All-American for 1998.

Morris owns and manages a 5,000-head contract hog farming operation near Ashville with his father, Stanley. The father-and-son partnership raises hogs for Tyson Foods.

As Alabama's 1998 Pork All-American, Morris will represent Alabama June 4-6 at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

"The Pork All-American program is designed to recognize young producers across the country who are efficient farmers, dedicated businessmen and outstanding community leaders," said Jack McGaughy, director of the Alabama Pork Producers, a division of the Alabama Farmers Federation.

At 36, Morris is no newcomer to the pork industry. He grew up helping his father run a 500-sow farrow-to-finish hog operation. After finishing high school, though, Morris went to work as a construction worker and was only able to help his father part time.

After 12 years of working off the farm, Morris decided to return to the family farm in 1990 and join his father in a contract-farming venture with Tyson.

"I've always enjoyed farming," Morris said. "I'm glad I had the opportunity to come back and work on the farm full time."

Today, with a state-of-the-art finishing operation, Morris receives 8-week-old pigs that weigh about 40 pounds. He raises the pigs to about 250 pounds over a 15-to 18-week period. At any one time there are more than 5,000 pigs on the farm and Morris and his father prepare about 15,000 hogs for market each year.

As a contract hog farmer for Tyson, Morris and his father provide the labor, farm management, buildings and land; Tyson supplies the farmers with the pigs plus the feed and medication.

"It's worth it," Morris said. "When you are farming independently you spent a lot of time worrying about market prices. As a contract farmer, I've not only got a guaranteed market, but a guaranteed paycheck, too."

Morris said not only does he and his father receive a steady paycheck, but they are also able to increase their profit by avoiding a lot of "out-of-pocket" expenses.

In addition to the pork operation, Morris and his wife, Tracie, and the couple's two daughters, Andrea and Laura, raise cattle on the family's 500-acre St. Clair County farm.

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