Charles Raymond “Chuck” Smith has dedicated his very productive and energetic life to improving, promoting, and protecting Florida agriculture. The industry could not have asked for a more passionate advocate. Smith has served agriculture in a variety of capacities, as a county extension agent, a farm manager, and a legislator. In each position he has worked diligently to effect positive change.
Smith was born in 1928 in Webster, Florida. Like many young men of the 1940s, he entered military service shortly after high school, enlisting in the Air Force. When his tour of duty was complete, he enrolled in the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1953. That same year, he accepted a job as an assistant county extension agent in Citrus County.
He was promoted to county agent a year later, working in Hernando and Liberty counties. As an agent, he spent many hours helping rural people as they struggled to combat hog cholera and improve their swine herds. He was not afraid to get his hands dirty as he worked to assist his neighbors.
Smith was elected to the Hernando County Commission in 1966 and served 12 years. In 1967 he became general manager of the Hernando Egg Cooperative. He spent years helping to promote the use and sale of broilers and eggs.
In 1978 he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served until 1992. During his legislative tenure, he made it his mission to protect agriculture and the natural resources on which the industry depends. He helped create the Market Improvement Working Capital Trust Fund, to be used for the operation and maintenance of agricultural facilities. He also assisted in the creation of the Surface Water Improvement and Management program, which addresses water quality issues and works to rehabilitate degraded water bodies. He wrote the first bill on Everglades restoration and helped draft legislation to provide excise tax exemption for fuels used in certain agricultural purposes.
“I helped and opposed Chuck Smith on many issues,” said former House member Everett Kelly, “but there was never any doubt that if you attacked agriculture he would be your worst enemy. He worked tirelessly in all parts of the legislative process to protect and promote agriculture and would take on the highest or the lowest state or national government official in defense of agriculture.”
Smith’s dedicated service to the industry has won him many awards and honors. In 1961 he was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award by the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. In 1989 he received a Ten-Year Service Award from the Florida Poultry Federation. That same year, he was named Legislator of the Year by the Florida Farm Bureau. In 1995 he received the Agriculture Volunteer of the Year Award from the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service.
Smith is a founding member of the Florida Agricultural Coalition and a past president of the Florida Federation of Fairs and Livestock Shows and the Florida Poultry Federation. He is currently serving as executive vice president of the Florida Poultry Federation and director of the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation. He is involved in the activities of the State Poultry Executives Association and the American Egg Board.
Smith lives in Brooksville with his wife, Mildred. They have three grown children — Linda, Randy, and David — and five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.