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
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-Farmers
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
FruitsHow To Get Started With Partnerships And Sponsorships
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farm says your business is never too small or too big to get more value for what you do on your farm. Read More
FruitsValue Through Partnerships And Sponsorships [Opinion]
March 25, 2015
Mark Saunders of Saunders Farms says admission is one way to get value for what you do, but sponsorships and partnerships are the next level. Read More
Summer Foley gets crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2015 by 2004 winner Nikki Upthegrove Matthews and reigning Miss Florida Vicotria Cowen
CitrusMeet The New Miss Florida Citrus
March 24, 2015
Pageant marks comeback of longstanding industry tradition. Read More
Apples & PearsMonster Crops: How Much Is Too Much?
March 24, 2015
With larger-than-ever crops, more new varieties and uncertain markets, we explore the current state of apple production and what it means for the future of the industry. Read More
CitrusReport: Family Farms Are Still Backbone Of U.S. Agriculture
March 17, 2015
USDA reports that 97% of all U.S. farms are family-owned. Read More
FNV logo
FruitsBranding Fruit Is A Good Call
March 16, 2015
The new FNV marketing campaign, launched by the Produce Marketing Association, makes sense in targeting teens. Read More
The Latest
Richard Jones
Farm ManagementDon’t Burn Out This Spring
March 30, 2015
Finding ways to limit stress will benefit both you and your business. Read More
CitrusProposed Farm Bill Provision To Limit Payments To Non-F…
March 25, 2015
USDA has proposed a new rule which would limit payment to those who are only actively engaged in farming. Read More
CitrusReport: Family Farms Are Still Backbone Of U.S. Agricul…
March 17, 2015
USDA reports that 97% of all U.S. farms are family-owned. Read More
defending agriculture; GMOs; farm innovation
Farm ManagementDefending Innovation Has Become Full-Time Job For Agric…
March 16, 2015
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says the notion that laying out facts in defense of science somehow constitutes a grand conspiracy should give us all pause. Read More
Farm ManagementKeeping Tabs On Technology Crucial To Your Business [Op…
March 13, 2015
There is plenty of outside-the-box thinking being used today to solve longstanding problems. Are you up to speed? Read More
CitrusWhy Honesty Is The Best Policy When Working With The Pu…
March 13, 2015
While at the recent Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention held in Hershey, PA, I sat in on a panel discussion Read More
Farm ManagementDon’t Sleep On Catastrophic Crop Insurance
March 12, 2015
Rude awakening could be in store for producers passing on noninsured crop disaster assistance program (NAP). Read More
Farm Management$66.5 Million Pledged For Produce Industry
March 10, 2015
USDA announces funding for research into specialty crops and organic production. Read More
CitrusMake The Most Of Social Media For Your Business
March 10, 2015
Social media is a valuable, and inexpensive tool to promote your business and reach a wide audience. Read More
CitrusPacked Political Agenda On Tap For Florida Farmers
February 23, 2015
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors are working on a number of key issues that will be front-burner throughout 2015. Read More
Farm ManagementNorthern California Indian Tribe Plans Pot Farm
February 19, 2015
Pinoleville tribal investor – and casino developer – expects marijuana facility construction to begin soon. Read More
Farm ManagementColorado Fruit And Vegetable Growers Association To Hos…
February 11, 2015
The association will hold its first conference in Denver, CO, Feb. 25. Read More
CitrusFlorida Agriculture Commissioner Pipes Up To Protect St…
February 5, 2015
Adam Putnam testifies before joint Congressional hearing on the impacts of WOTUS. Read More
bee keeper
CitrusTop Beekeepers Wanted
February 2, 2015
Bayer CropScience seeks nominations for award honoring innovations in the beekeeping community. Read More
CitrusNominees Sought For Florida Agricultural Environmental …
January 26, 2015
Honor recognizes those developing and adopting environmentally innovative farming practices. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Stay Grounded When Reaching For Lofty Go…
January 20, 2015
Unmanned aerial vehicles are all the rage. Can and will this technology become a standard tool for farmers? Read More
Farm ManagementEcological Farming Association Conference Nears
January 19, 2015
The 35th annual conference will be held Jan. 21-24 in Asilomar, CA. Read More
CitrusScientists Say 2014 Warmest Year Since 1880
January 19, 2015
Separate studies by NASA and NOAA confirm continuance of long-term warming trend. Read More