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
girl on smartphone
GenNext Growers
June 24, 2017
Find the Food Safety Apps That Are Right for You
There are a lot of choices available for growers. We’ve sifted through them to help figure out which ones will best suit you. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption Produce Safety Rule
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Florida orange juice label close-up
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Help Consumers Read past Negative Headlines About Orange Juice
When it comes to this liquid sunshine, there are plenty of positives to point out. Read More
Up-close shot of a hops plant during the 2016 Florida Ag Expo
Farm Management
June 20, 2017
5 Alternative Crops Florida Farmers Should Consider
Here’s a look at new selections being vetted that might have a place in fields around the Sunshine State. Read More
school lunch tray full of Florida-grown blueberries and watermelon
Citrus
June 15, 2017
Florida Farm to School Initiative Makes New Strides
Connecting with local growers, communication, and flexibility are keys to a successful nutrition program. Read More
Business Planning
June 14, 2017
How Ready Pac Went from Near Bankruptcy to Innovation in 3 Years
The company's new CEO, Tony Sarsam, spoke at United Fresh's MKT Expo about how investing in staff, increasing communication, and reaching for the same goal can transform a business. Read More
FL Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill
Citrus
June 9, 2017
State Budget Cuts Threaten to Take Big Bite from UF/IFAS Programs
Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed plan includes trimming more than $6 million from research and education-based initiatives. Read More
Citrus
June 9, 2017
Agriculture Water Standards Compliance Dates Extended
FDA says the agency will extend the compliance dates after feedback from stakeholders. Read More
Forbes AgTech Summit speech
Farm Management
June 8, 2017
AgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
Third annual invite-only industry event to showcase game-changing ideas and innovations.  Read More
Flooded vegetable field in South Florida
Citrus
June 7, 2017
Super Soaker Deleting Drought Status in the Sunshine State
From famine to feast, Florida’s record-setting dry spell has given way to a wide-open wet season. Read More
Center pivot irrigation system at Florida research farm
Citrus
June 1, 2017
Big Bucks up for Grabs to Water-Wise Florida Farmers
St. Johns River Water Management District cost-share funding would support implementation of conservation-minded practices and technologies. Read More
Farm Management
May 31, 2017
It’s Time to Embrace Technology on Your Farm Operation
Find opportunities to adopt new innovations critical to the success of your operation — and maybe a lot more. Read More
Hurricane season photo collage
Citrus
May 29, 2017
NOAA Betting on Another Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season
Forecasters predict above-normal storm activity, depending on El Niño's naughtiness. Read More
Panama Canal Expansion opening celebration
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Plight of Trade Policy Grounding Many U.S. Growers
Much-needed investments in labor-saving technology could be key to long-term survival. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Florida Farm Winning Case for Medicinal Cannabis License
Judge rules in favor of 3 Boys Farm in the quest to expand its crop/business portfolio. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
June 28, 2017
Last Chance for New Operations to Sign U…
The Census of Agriculture, which takes place every five years, guides federal, state, and county level decisions on policies affecting growers. Read More
Citrus
June 28, 2017
Felony Charges in Beehive Thefts
The men accused of heading up an operation to steal and re-sell beehives, Pavel Tveretinov and Vitaliy Yeroshenko, 48, have Read More
Farm Management
June 27, 2017
Lipman’s Kent Shoemaker: Sustainab…
Nearly seven years ago, not long after being hired by the Lipman family, my wife and I attended an event Read More
Farm Management
June 20, 2017
5 Alternative Crops Florida Farmers Shou…
Here’s a look at new selections being vetted that might have a place in fields around the Sunshine State. Read More
Business Planning
June 14, 2017
How Ready Pac Went from Near Bankruptcy …
The company's new CEO, Tony Sarsam, spoke at United Fresh's MKT Expo about how investing in staff, increasing communication, and reaching for the same goal can transform a business. Read More
Citrus
June 9, 2017
State Budget Cuts Threaten to Take Big B…
Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed plan includes trimming more than $6 million from research and education-based initiatives. Read More
Farm Management
June 8, 2017
AgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Far…
Third annual invite-only industry event to showcase game-changing ideas and innovations.  Read More
Citrus
June 7, 2017
Super Soaker Deleting Drought Status in …
From famine to feast, Florida’s record-setting dry spell has given way to a wide-open wet season. Read More
Citrus
June 1, 2017
Big Bucks up for Grabs to Water-Wise Flo…
St. Johns River Water Management District cost-share funding would support implementation of conservation-minded practices and technologies. Read More
Farm Management
May 31, 2017
It’s Time to Embrace Technology on…
Find opportunities to adopt new innovations critical to the success of your operation — and maybe a lot more. Read More
Citrus
May 29, 2017
NOAA Betting on Another Busy Atlantic Hu…
Forecasters predict above-normal storm activity, depending on El Niño's naughtiness. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Plight of Trade Policy Grounding Many U.…
Much-needed investments in labor-saving technology could be key to long-term survival. Read More
Farm Management
May 25, 2017
Florida Farm Winning Case for Medicinal …
Judge rules in favor of 3 Boys Farm in the quest to expand its crop/business portfolio. Read More
Citrus
May 25, 2017
Are We Overstating the World’s Ove…
If growers can’t achieve a fair return on investment and stay in business, it won’t matter what the population is in 2050. We all will be trouble. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2017
Search is on For Next Crop of Florida Ag…
Nomination period now open for longtime industry honor. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
Short on Water, Florida Growers Know How…
Through drought, smoke and brush fires, it’s plain to see you farmers have been doing your part to conserve and preserve one of our most precious resources. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2017
USDA Creates Undersecretary for Trade
Reorganization puts trade, farm production as top priorities for the agency. Read More
Citrus
May 15, 2017
Drought Conditions Deepen Across Central…
Water Shortage Warning Order expanded to all counties within St. Johns River Water Management District. Read More