Sonny Faison, one of North Carolina’s most respected and successful pork producers, has been inducted into the NC Pork Hall of Fame by the NC Pork Council. It is the highest honor the council can bestow.
“Sonny did as much as anyone to help transform North Carolina’s hog farming community into the modern industry we have today. He is in a special league of leaders alongside people such as Wendell Murphy and Bill Prestage,” said Deborah Johnson, chief executive officer of the NC Pork Council.
Faison retired as president of Carroll’s Foods after 24 years of service, growing the company into the nation’s second largest hog production company and one of the largest turkey production companies before it was sold to Smithfield Foods in 1999. He passed away in 2006.
Throughout his career, Faison was instrumental in developing the vertical integration that defines today’s modern pork industry. He helped pioneer the contract production model and successfully recruited pork producers by offering his advice and support to young farmers interested in joining the industry.
One of those young farmers was Henry Moore III, a member of the National Pork Board who credits Faison for his start in the pork industry. Moore and Dexter Edwards, who worked alongside Faison at Carroll’s for many years, presented a plaque honoring Faison to his wife, Dorothy, and family during a ceremony Friday at the NC Pork Council’s annual conference in Raleigh.
“I am so proud to say that I got a start at a young age with a man who had a lot of vision and foresight. He taught me a lot,” said Edwards, general manager of Smithfield Hog Production Division.
“I would like to thank the North Carolina Pork Council for honoring my father,” said Plato Faison. “The most important aspect of my father’s success in the hog industry was the people he associated with, including the employees of Carroll’s and all of the contract growers. My father and other industry leaders looked at the big picture on how to improve upon and create longevity in the North Carolina swine industry.”
A lifelong resident of Clinton, Faison was born in Sampson County in 1934. He graduated from Clinton High School and Wake Forest College before serving in the US Army. He married Dorothy in 1962 and they had three sons.
Faison was actively involved in the North Carolina pork industry and business community. He provided leadership to many organizations, including the National 4-H Society, NC Agribusiness Council, the Global Transpark Foundation, the NC State Ports Authority, Sampson Community College, Duplin County Educational Foundation and many others. He also served on the board of directors for Smithfield Foods.
Faison is also a member of the NC State Prestage Department of Poultry Science Hall of Fame.