Grower Profile: Young Farmers; Young Family
A lot of industry observers would classify Bobby Morris of West Baton Rouge Parish and his family members that make up Morris Farms Partnership as the ideal American family farming enterprise.
They’re fourth generation farmers who learned the profession from their father, Robert Morris. Elder Morris is the ranking member of the overall Morris farming family group
They’re young. The partnership age range is 32-35. Morris Farms Partnership is comprised of Bobby and Melissa Morris, and Bobby’s sister, Mekelle Morris Pinsonat and Mekelle’s husband, Scott Pinsonat. There are a lot of farming years ahead of them.
They’re growing. Morris Farms Partnership currently cultivates 1600 acres in the Chamberlin community just north of Port Allen along the Mississippi River. And they hope to add to their farm.
They’re progressive. The group actively participates in sugarcane research by allowing part of the farm to be used as a secondary station (a farm that grows new varieties that will be used for seed cane).
They’re active. The group is active in American Farm Bureau and Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation (LFBF) matters and lobby to their elected officials about the various needs of the agricultural community.
The Morris family is happy to be active in the traditions, the politics and the research of the sugarcane business, but the accomplishment that they are most proud of is that they are a family farm.
Many Louisiana sugarcane growers categorize their operations as “family farms,” but the Morrises have everyone involved in their family venture all the way down to Dylan Morris, Bobby’s four-year-old.
“We have the benefits of raising our kids on the farm,” Makelle said. I couldn’t imagine raising our kids in the city. That’s one of the biggest benefits of being a farmer.”
“We all work together and our kids go to work with us,” she said.
In addition to Dylan, Bobby and Melissa have a seven year old son named Tyler. Makelle and Scott have Ashlyn, 10, and Jacob, 7.
Bobby is amused that his four-year-old would rather ride in a tractor driven by one of the Spanish-speaking hired hands than with him.
“They speak the same language,” Bobby observed.
Raising the children on the farm doesn’t mean that the kids are out in the fields and on the tractors every day, Melissa said.
“But when we’re planting, they are out with us,” she said. “We’re all out in the field planting because that when we our work force comes in. The kids do a great job of getting water to the field workers and other things.”
The group is led by Bobby, a young man who once had dreams of being a rodeo cowboy. Two knee surgeries grounded him and he was happy to take up the mantle of farming. He won the LFBF Young Farmer and Rancher award in 2012 and been a finalist for Louisiana Farmer of the year twice.
Melissa is a city girl who went to school in New Orleans and never dreamed she’d be married to a farmer, much less be a farmer.
Makelle earned an agro-business degree from LSU and grew up in the farming life. Scott had a dump truck business before he was convinced to take over the pesticide application duties of Morris Farms Partnership.
The men tend to take care of most of the tractor field work and the women run the business end of the operation, but will drive a truck or tractor if need be.
The real job on the farm is raising the kids and that’s a job the Morris family wouldn’t trade for anything else.