Growing up in rural Baldwin County as the son of a sawmill owner and farmer, Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan learned the value of hard work, determination and relationships. Those standards served him well throughout his life in the private business sector and almost 50 years in the political arena.
Known as a leader who can make hard decisions and deliver a tough message with compassion, McMillan’s dedication to Alabama earned him the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Service To Agriculture Award, the organization’s highest honor. Federation President Jimmy Parnell will present McMillan the award during the Federation’s 97th annual meeting Dec. 2 in Montgomery.
“I am humbled and truly honored to have been selected for this award,” McMillan said. “The Alabama Farmers Federation has been an organization I’ve turned to for advice and assistance throughout my career. I’ve been fortunate to work with and be around good people all my life. As far as what I’ve accomplished, this award is as much for all of them as it is for me.”
McMillan’s political career includes service as a Baldwin County commissioner, state representative, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) commissioner and State Personnel Board member. In 2010, he won his first statewide election as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. He was reelected in 2014 and was elected state treasurer earlier this year.
Parnell described McMillan as a resourceful leader, who used his skills to repair and rebuild the ag commissioner’s office when he was elected in 2010.
“When John first took office at the Department of Agriculture, he set a new tone for the services that office would provide,” Parnell said. “He immediately encouraged a higher standard of public service among department employees and cultivated a new vision for the department’s future.”
McMillan also formerly served as Alabama Forestry Association vice president where, in 2003, he helped the Federation defeat Amendment 1 — the largest proposed tax increase in Alabama’s history.
“He has opposed property tax increases and burdensome environmental regulations,” Parnell said. “Throughout his life, John has been a friend and advocate for rural Alabama.”
During his time as ADCNR commissioner, McMillan was instrumental in creating the Alabama Trust Fund, a state trust to preserve proceeds from offshore oil and gas leases.
While ag commissioner, he served as president of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the Southern United States Trade Association. He also served on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture board of directors.
Besides an enthusiasm for community and public service, McMillan loves hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. He and his wife, Kathryn, have two sons, William and Murphy. Murphy and wife Beth have two children.