Russell F. Frazier
Russell “Frank” Frazier received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky in 1940 and went on to make the broiler industry his vocation and avocation.
He began his professional life with the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service followed by a stint in the U.S. Navy. After returning to civilian life, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a marketing specialist in Atlanta. He was later placed in charge of the USDA’s area office to handle poultry and egg marketing in nine southeastern states. During this time, he directed the first official cost-of-production study ever conducted in the broiler industry.
In 1946, he became executive secretary of the Virginia State Poultry Federation and helped build the small organization into the country’s largest state poultry association. For his efforts, he received the federation’s distinguished service award. Two years later, he was named executive secretary of the Southeastern Poultry and Egg Association and launched its first convention and trade show. Under his watch, the association became the nation’s largest regional association.
Following World War II, the poultry industry was plagued with frequent periods of overproduction and below-production prices leading to discussion of federal production controls and price supports. Frazier, however, led the push to reject government controls and instead depend on the free market by developing programs to boost chicken consumption. He met with industry leaders to discuss the challenges, and this led to the establishment of the National Broiler Council, which he led from 1955-1972.
Frazier oversaw the development and implementation of national promotional campaigns to increase consumer demand for chicken. These promotions were so successful that they became a major factor in expanding per capita consumption of ready-to-cook chicken from 21.3 pounds in 1955 to 38.5 pounds in 1972 and set the stage for the continued increase in per capita consumption of chicken in the following years. In 2010, per capita consumption was 83.6 pounds.
During his career, he helped set the stage for the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957, which required the inspection and approval of each bird processed in modern plants. When changes were made to the law in 1968, he was the principal spokesman for the industry and helped guide the amendments through Congress. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented him with one of the pens used to sign them into law.
He also served on USDA’s poultry advisory board, a group that recommended priority projects for use of federal research funds. In 1983, he founded the American Agribusiness Associates and used his leadership skills to supervise a program for private sector development of modern food systems in 15 emerging world markets. The systems were designed to improve diets by making better food available at a lower cost, create thousands of new jobs and help strengthen the countries’ economies.
Frazier also took time for his community through many endeavors and received many honors during his long, distinguished career.