Otterbein, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 1998
From the time he graduated from Purdue until May of 1997, Mr. Conner was a trusted advisor to America’s lawmakers in Washington. Today, he is president of the Corn Refiners Association, representing the nine wet-millers of corn in the United States. Together, these nines companies refine about 1.5 billion bushels of the U.S. corn crop into high fructose corn syrup, ethanol, and other starch-based corn products.
Early in his career, Mr. Conner served as counselor to US Senator Richard Lugar on several facets of agricultural economics, establishing himself as an instrumental voice for agricultural policy improvement. In 1985, he became a professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry while maintaining his responsibilities to Senator Lugar. In January of 1987, he became Minority Staff Director of the same committee, helping to promote the 1990 Food Security Act and the Farm Credit
Assistance Act of 1988 among others. By 1995, Mr. Conner was the Majority Staff Director of the committee, and lists the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 among his major accomplishments.
Determined not to become caught up in the detached, distant mindset reputed of many Washington insiders, Conner always maintained a personal balance with the Midwest during his service. Never forgetting his alma mater, he continually sought advice from expert Purdue staff to promote key legislation and supported programs, in affiliation with Purdue, designed to educate future agricultural leaders. Mr. Conner refused to ignore the needs of this vital industry by pursuing legislation designed to assist those that feed and clothe the nation and the world—American agriculturists.
Despite his commitments in our nation’s capitol, Mr. Conner finds time to operate a 1500 acre corn and soybean operation in Benton County, Indiana. He also maintains a herd of 100 registered Angus cows in Whitley County, Indiana, completing the spectrum of his widespread agricultural understanding.
For contributions to his profession and community, and for bringing distinction to his alma mater, Purdue University School of Agriculture is proud to present the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Mr. Charles F. Conner.