Adam Putnam: Doyle Conner a 'Mentor,' Defined the Ag Office


Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam called the late Doyle Conner, who spent nearly 30 years as the state’s agriculture commissioner, a ‘mentor’ who ‘defined' the office.

Doyle Conner
Conner, 83, also served as a Florida House speaker.

"He brought a passion for the land and the needs of Florida farmers and ranchers to his role and tirelessly promoted Florida agriculture around the world," Putnam stated in a release on Sunday. "He modernized the Department of Agriculture and championed its evolution to include consumer service responsibilities."

Conner was first elected to the Florida House in 1950, while an undergraduate at the University of Florida.  Called the "Boy Wonder of Florida Politics," Conner would become speaker in 1958.

Among his legislative achievements was the Green Belt Law, which enabled farmland to be taxed on its agricultural use rather than a speculative value.

In 1961 Conner, a Democrat, was elected commissioner of agriculture, serving the post under seven governors before stepping down in 1991.

While in office, Conner was focused on eradication of disease and the Mediterranean fruit fly, as well as marketing Florida’s farms.

He was elected to the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Florida FFA Hall of Fame in 2007.

Putnam's statement on Conner:

“Our state has lost a great Floridian with the passing of Doyle Conner. An overachiever from the beginning, Doyle was in college when elected to the state House, rose to be the youngest speaker of the House ever and served as commissioner of agriculture for 30 years.

“While on the Cabinet, Doyle fiercely protected the rights of the Cabinet members while counseling seven governors. He brought a passion for the land and the needs of Florida farmers and ranchers to his role and tirelessly promoted Florida agriculture around the world. He modernized the Department of Agriculture and championed its evolution to include consumer service responsibilities.

“Throughout his career, Doyle mentored thousands of young people who went on to take leadership roles in industry, the department and public service. He made youth leadership development opportunities a priority and has been recognized by 4-H, FFA and Alpha Gamma Rho agricultural fraternity for his generosity over the course of his life.

“Doyle was a mentor to me and defined the role of commissioner of agriculture for all others to follow. My prayers are with his family and the thoughts of the entire department are on him at this time.”
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