In Memoriam: Doyle Conner Left A Lasting Legacy For Florida Agriculture

Former Florida Ag Commissioner Doyle Conner

In December, our state lost a great Floridian with the passing of Doyle Conner. The youngest Speaker of the House in Florida and the Commissioner of Agriculture for 30 years, Conner was a powerful advocate for Florida’s agriculture industry, a champion for Florida consumers, and an inspiration to many, myself included.

Conner’s source of inspiration came in the form of his predecessor, Nathan Mayo, the only state Commissioner of Agriculture who served longer than he did (1923 to 1960). The two met when Conner was just a 14-year-old spending his summer at forestry camp. There, Conner declared that when Commissioner Mayo retired, Conner would take his place. Less than 20 years later, Conner fulfilled his promise and was elected Commissioner of Agriculture in 1960.

As both a legislator and Commissioner of Agriculture, Conner grew the Florida Department of Agriculture to include responsibilities such as managing the state’s 1 million acres of forest resources and safeguarding consumers from deceptive business practices. Conner, however, did not lose sight of the Department’s mission to support Florida’s agriculture industry.

Fresh From Florida

Conner was a tireless promoter of Florida-grown products. He traveled to more than 60 countries, including Spain, Kenya, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, introducing Florida products to new markets. From the time he was first sworn in, to his last day in office, cash receipts for Florida products multiplied seven fold, from $869 million to $6.2 billion. He worked to promote Florida commodities domestically as well through supermarkets and local farmers’ markets. Under Conner’s leadership, Florida was one of the first states to brand its agricultural products, a marketing tactic that is now widely practiced throughout the nation.

At Your Service

Conner staunchly defended the agriculture industry against the threat of pests and disease. Most notably, he pioneered the way we eradicate pests in his defeat of cattle screwworm. Conner fought for funding to support a research program that would explore new options for eradicating the pest. The program proposed a new and innovative, yet unproven method that involved releasing millions of sterile male flies as a biological control of the pest. The method proved to be effective in eradicating screwworm in Florida and was the first demonstration of efficacy using the sterile male technique.
Though his impact on Florida agriculture is immeasurable, Conner’s most important contribution was his commitment to youth. An active member of 4-H and FFA throughout his youth, Conner made youth leadership development opportunities a priority. He mentored thousands of young people who went on to take leadership roles in industry, the department, and public service.

His commitment to youth is evidence to me that his first meeting with Commissioner Mayo had a lasting impression on him. He clearly appreciated the inspiration and motivation that Commissioner Mayo offered him. In turn, Commissioner Conner served as inspiration and motivation to the generations that followed him.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Farm Management Stories

CitrusReport: Major Food And Agriculture Employers Can’t Fill Vital Jobs
October 21, 2014
Current shortage of young farming professionals means ample employment opportunity for the next generation. Read More
CitrusGrowers Need To Take The Ball And Run — Now! [Opinion]
October 18, 2014
Help yourself, your farm, and fellow colleagues by becoming more involved in your industry. Read More
CitrusDiversification Is King For Small Farm’s Success
October 16, 2014
Being flexible and adapting to the times critical for Central Florida's Vo-LaSalle Farms. Read More
Farm ManagementVidalia Onion Committee Reaches Younger Audience with Digital Marketing Efforts
October 15, 2014
“V is for Vidalia” campaign focused on social and digital media outreach. Read More
Food SafetyCalifornia Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Revises Website To Provide Easy Access To Food Safety Topics
October 15, 2014
The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement's revised website provides food safety news and resources. Read More
CitrusUF/IFAS Joins In On Specialty Crop Block Grant Bonanza
October 15, 2014
Researchers partnering with FDACS and USDA on 24 separate projects to strengthen the produce market sector. Read More
Citrus2015 Florida Agricultural Hall Of Fame Inductees Announced
October 14, 2014
Six more to be honored for helping shape and influence the state’s farming industry. Read More

The Latest

Farm ManagementResearchers Finding Biofuel Fits For Florida
October 21, 2014
Alternative crops identified that are suited for the state's climate and can easily be processed for power. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More
CitrusGrowers Need To Take The Ball And Run — Now! [Opi…
October 18, 2014
Help yourself, your farm, and fellow colleagues by becoming more involved in your industry. Read More
CitrusDiversification Is King For Small Farm’s Success
October 16, 2014
Being flexible and adapting to the times critical for Central Florida's Vo-LaSalle Farms. Read More
Farm ManagementVidalia Onion Committee Reaches Younger Audience with D…
October 15, 2014
“V is for Vidalia” campaign focused on social and digital media outreach. Read More
CitrusUF/IFAS Joins In On Specialty Crop Block Grant Bonanza
October 15, 2014
Researchers partnering with FDACS and USDA on 24 separate projects to strengthen the produce market sector. Read More
Citrus2015 Florida Agricultural Hall Of Fame Inductees Announ…
October 14, 2014
Six more to be honored for helping shape and influence the state’s farming industry. Read More
CitrusFarm Bureau Urges Senate To Ditch Proposed Water Rule
October 8, 2014
Farm Bureau says the time is now to have the proposed water rule withdrawn. Read More
Farm ManagementSpecialty Crop Producers Score Nearly $118 Million In G…
October 2, 2014
Via 2014 Farm Bill, USDA seeks to bolster major driver in U.S. economy.   Read More
BerriesReal Estate Firm, Wish Farms Strike Large Land Deal
October 1, 2014
$13.8 million transaction includes more than 800 acres acquired from longtime Central Florida produce operation. Read More
CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
CitrusFlorida Announces Its 2014 Woman Of The Year In Agricul…
September 29, 2014
Longtime award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s farming sector. Read More
CitrusFlorida Produce Industry Embracing Progress, Confrontin…
September 29, 2014
Production pressures and politics hot topics at FFVA’s 71st Annual Convention. Read More
CitrusFlorida Farmers Finding Ways To Cultivate An Environmen…
September 26, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam salutes producers putting their best management practices forward. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Partner Wisely To Stay Afloat Amid WOTUS…
September 26, 2014
According to Florida Grower editor Frank Giles, the Clean Water Act is muddying waters for farmers. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Takes Steps To Help Farmers Manage Risk
September 25, 2014
New programs offers farmers protection against price drops and additional unforeseen risks. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More