Mr. Adam Putnam was most recently the Commissioner of Agriculture for the state where he served in one of four statewide elected positions within the government. He led the nation’s largest state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and was responsible for the management of 1.3 million acres of state forests, running the state Energy Office and directing the state’s school nutrition programs.
As Commissioner of Agriculture, Putnam was a strong advocate for Florida’s water resources. During his tenure he expanded Florida’s best management water practices program, through which farmers voluntarily adopt measures to reduce their water use and minimize the use of nutrients that, in high volumes, can negatively impact the environment. More than 7 million acres of agricultural lands in Florida are now enrolled in the program. That equates to 53 percent of all agricultural lands in the state, saving, on average, 19 million gallons of water daily.
As a result of his leadership in water policies, in 2017 Putnam was the first elected official awarded the U.S. Water Prize from the U.S. Water Alliance. The award celebrates innovative and sustainable approaches to water issues and highlights individuals tackling our nation’s greatest water problems.
In addition to the best management water practices program, Putnam also created more than 40 conservation easements through the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. These easements preserved more than 50,000 acres in Florida, land that is critical to wildlife habitat and water quality.
Prior to serving as Commissioner, Putnam served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected in 2000, Putnam was the youngest member of Congress at the time and the youngest ever from Florida. While in Washington, D.C., he distinguished himself as the leading voice for specialty crop agriculture in the nation’s Farm Bill, international trade and food safety. Putnam served as co-chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus; as a member on the Agriculture, Financial Services and Rules Committees; and as chairman of the Subcommittee of the Government Reform and Oversight. After just two terms, he was elected by his peers to be Republican Policy Chairman, and as the Republican Conference Chairman in 2006.
Putnam is a fifth-generation Floridian and a graduate of the University of Florida where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Food and Resource Economics. He has also been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and served as a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute. In 2010, he was the E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Florida. Putnam and his wife of 20 years, Melissa, are raising their four children in Bartow with plans to move to Memphis in the coming months.
Recently, he accepted the CEO position at Ducks Unlimited, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people.