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
the sunset on a hot day
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warmest Year on Record
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 18, 2017
$858,000 in Grants to Encourage Careers in Agriculture Science
Funding to invest in programs that educate, promote science in the classroom. Read More
cash money in hand
GenNext Growers
January 17, 2017
9 Financial Resolutions to Boost Your Farm’s Bottom Line
If a goal for the new year includes increasing profitability, there are ways you can better manage your business. Read More
agriculture data graphic
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farmers?
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Mobile technology farming
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Hands — Literally [Opinion]
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Case IH autonomus tractor
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fiction
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Example of how farmers can use iPads to track data around his operation
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaining Traction Fast
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farm…
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Han…
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fi…
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaini…
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2017
Vilsack Bids Fond Farewell in Early Exit…
With no clear-cut replacement in sight, U.S. agriculture secretary leaves one week before his term officially ends. Read More
Farm Management
January 11, 2017
Where Do Vegetable Growers Find Labor?
Only 14% of vegetable growers use the H-2A program as a source of labor, according to American Vegetable Grower's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry Survey. So where is the industry finding its labor? Read More
Citrus
January 10, 2017
Was 2016 the Worst Weather Year Ever?
Near all-time records in average temperature and costly climate-related disasters make a strong case for dubious distinction. Read More
Farm Management
January 10, 2017
FSMA Training Available in Colorado
To be in compliance with the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, be sure farm personnel completes the required training. Read More
Farm Management
January 9, 2017
Fruit and Vegetable Sector Scores Winter…
15th annual Southeast Fruit & Vegetable Conference serves as port in the storm for growers, researchers, and industry vendors seeking to buy, sell, and learn. Read More
Farm Management
January 9, 2017
Reaping Rewards is Part of the Journey […
It's time for a new editor to experience the rewards of the journey to help you become a better and more successful vegetable grower. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
The Disappearing Workforce: Vegetable Gr…
The No. 1 issue for vegetable growers isn’t pests, food safety, or even weather. It’s a lack of labor. Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
How Politics Will Impact Vegetable Growe…
Vegetable growers face an uncomfortable set of truths: Government regulations can make life difficult for food producers. Regulations often stem Read More
Farm Management
January 4, 2017
California Snowpack Below Average –…
The January 3 measurement was disheartening, but a big, fat blanket of snow fell during the following week, and the state’s biggest reservoirs have levels well above average. Read More
Citrus
December 29, 2016
Are Today’s Agriculture Regulation…
Donald Trump has been clear that he is no fan of burdensome rules that stifle productivity. Read More
Citrus
December 23, 2016
How Farming’s Deep Roots Can Inspi…
I tell my friends I have the best job around. Why? Because of this industry and the people who work in it. Read More