Commissioner Adam H. Putnam

Florida Agriculture: 500 Years in the Making

Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame

Neal Palmer "Pal" Brooks

A Miami native, Pal Brooks is president of J.R. Brooks and Son, Inc., a $60 million business that is the nation's leading producer of tropical fruit. His peers describe him as someone who runs his tropical fruit business with lithe mind of a true businessman, but the heart of a grower."

A University of Florida graduate with a degree in agricultural economics, Brooks went into the family produce business in 1961 and bought the business from his father in 1967. Critical to his success was his passion for applied research. His drive to be on the cutting edge resulted in numerous research and agricultural experiments over the last 30years. He waS the first to use the hydro-cooler on avocados, an innovation. that radically changed the avocado business by allowing growers and retailers to sell a better quality product with a longer shelf-life. Within the mango industry, he was the first to use a hot water treatment for anthracnose.

In South Florida, Brooks is known for his devotion to the Homestead community where he serves on the Boards of Directors for the Community Bank of Homestead and the Dade County Farm Bureau. He is a past president of the Florida Mango Forum and the Florida Lime and Avocado Committee. He currently serves as a member of the Lime and Avocado Committee's Executive Committee, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association's Executive Committee and on the Board of Trustees for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Assodation's Self-Insurers' Fund. He is also a member of the Dade Partners of the Dade County Public School System and of the University of Florida's SHARE program.

Throughout his 30 years in the specialty fruit industry, Brooks has weathered many storms, the most recent being Hurricane Andrew, which devastated Homestead and his company. Despite these losses, he brought Brooks Tropicals back into full operation in less than two years and it remains a major employer in South Florida.

For his agricultural achievements, Brooks has been recognized as the U,S. Jaycees National Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year in 1974, The Grower magazine's "Grower of the Year" in 1986 and as the Dade County Grower and Packer of the Year in 1988. He has also won the Ford Motor (0.'5 Farm Efficiency A ward.

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