1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Agriculture, Board of

AGRICULTURE, BOARD OF. The Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, in England, owes its foundation to the establishment of a veterinary department of the privy council in 1865, when the country was ravaged by cattle plague. An order in council abolished the name “veterinary department” in 1883 and substituted that of “agricultural department,” but no alteration was effected in the work of the department, so far as it related to animals. In 1889 the Board of Agriculture (for Great Britain) was formed under an act of parliament of that year, and the immediate control of the agricultural department was transferred from the clerk of the privy council to the secretary of the Board of Agriculture, where it remains.

A minister of agriculture had for years been asked for in the interests of the agricultural community, and the functions of this office are discharged by the president of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, whose appointment is a political one, and may or may not carry with it a seat in the cabinet. The board consists of the lord president of the council, the five principal secretaries of state, the first lord of the treasury, the chancellor of the exchequer, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster and the secretary for Scotland. The establishment consists of a president, secretary, assistant secretaries, &c. The salary of the president is £2000 a year, and that of the secretary £1500 a year.

The Board of Agriculture on its establishment took over from the privy council the responsibilities of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts, besides the comprehensive duties of the Land Commission. The board, through its intelligence division, collects and prepares statistics relating to agriculture and forestry, and in 1904 appointed a number of honorary agricultural correspondents throughout the country for the purpose of bringing to the notice of the board any special circumstances affecting the practice of agriculture, horticulture and forestry, or the transport of farm, garden and forest produce in their districts. The land division of the board prepares the annual agricultural and produce returns, and the three divisions, the animals, intelligence and land, take proceedings under the following acts:—the Diseases of Animals Acts, the Markets and Fairs (Weighing of Cattle) Acts, the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts 1875 to 1800, the Merchandise Marks Acts 1887 to 1905, the Fertilizers and Feeding Stuffs Act 1893, the Tithe Acts 1836 to 1891, the Copyhold Act 1894, the Inclosure Acts 1845 to 1899, the Agricultural Holdings Acts 1883 to 1900, the Drainage and Improvement of Land Acts, the Universities and College Estates Acts 1858 to 1898, the Glebe Lands Act 1888, &c. The board also has charge of the inspection of schools (not being public elementary schools) in which technical instruction is given in agriculture or forestry, and institutes such experimental investigations as may be deemed conducive to the progress of agriculture and forestry.

The Ordnance Survey of the United Kingdom is under the control of the board, as well as the arrangements for the advertisement and sale of the publications of the Geological Survey. In 1903 the powers and duties formerly vested in the commissioners of the Office of Works, relating to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, were transferred to the board. The various departments of the board are (1) chief clerk’s branch and indoor branch of animals division; (2) outdoor branch of the animals division; (3) veterinary department; (4) fisheries branch; (5) intelligence department; (6) educational branch; (7) accounts branch; (8) inclosure and common branch; (9) copyhold and tithe branch; (10) statistical branch; (11) law branch; (12) survey, land improvement and land drainage branch.

In 1903, in pursuance of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries Act 1903, the powers and duties of the Board of Trade under the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts, the Sea Fisheries Regulation Acts and other acts relating to the industry of fishing, were transferred from that department to the Board of Agriculture, and its name was changed to its present form. The Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland covers much the same ground. The Annual Report of the Proceedings of the Board of Agriculture under the Tithe and other Acts for 1902 contains a full account of its powers and duties.

In the British colonies the interests of agriculture are looked after in New South Wales, by an under-secretary for mines and agriculture; in Victoria, by a member of the executive council who holds the portfolio of lands and agriculture; in Queensland, by an under-secretary for agriculture; in New Zealand, by a minister for lands and agriculture; in Canada (see, for more detail, the article Canada, Canadian Agriculture), by a minister for agriculture (the various provinces have also departments of agriculture). The government of India has a secretary of revenue and agriculture. Cape Colony has a secretary for agriculture, a member of the cabinet; in the Transvaal Colony the director of agriculture is a departmental secretary; in Natal, the minister for agriculture is a member of the executive council, and the establishment consists, in addition, of a secretary, a director of agriculture, an entomologist, a dairy expert and a conservator of forests. Cyprus has a director of agriculture.

United States.—The Department of Agriculture dates its rank as an executive department from 1889. It was first established as a department in 1862, ranking as a bureau, with a commissioner in charge. In addition to the commissioner there were appointed a statistician, chemist, entomologist and superintendent of a propagatory and experimental farm. Its scope was then somewhat limited, but its work was gradually enlarged by the appointment of a botanist in 1868, a microscopist in 1871, the creation of a forestry department in 1877, a bureau of animal industry in 1884 and the establishment of agricultural experiment stations throughout the country in 1887. In 1889 the department became an executive department, the principal official being designated Secretary of Agriculture, with a seat in the president’s cabinet. His salary is $8000 a year. The secretary is now charged with the supervision of all business relating to the agricultural and productive industries. The fisheries have a separate bureau, and the public lands and mining interests are cared for in the Department of the Interior; but with these exceptions, all the productive interests are looked after by the Department of Agriculture. The department now comprises (1) the weather bureau, which has charge of the forecasting of weather; the issue of storm warnings; the display of weather and flood signals for the benefit of agriculture, commerce and navigation; the gauging and reporting of rivers; the reporting of temperature and rainfall conditions for the cotton, rice, sugar and other interests; the display of frost and cold waves signals; and the distribution of meteorological information in the interest of agriculture and commerce; (2) the bureau of animal industry, which makes investigations as to the existence of contagious pleuro-pneumonia and other dangerous and communicable diseases of live stock, superintends the measures for their extirpation, makes original investigations as to the nature and prevention of such diseases, and reports on the conditions and means of improving the animal industries of the country; (3) the bureau of plant industry, which studies plant life in all its relations to agriculture. Its work is classified under the general subjects of pathological investigations, physiological investigations, taxonomic investigations, agronomic investigations, horticultural investigations and seed and plant introduction investigations; (4) the forest service, which is occupied with experiments, investigations and reports dealing with the subject of forestry, and with the dissemination of information upon forestry matters; (5) the bureau of chemistry, which investigates methods proposed for the analysis of plants, fertilizers and agricultural products, and makes such analyses as pertain in general to the interests of agriculture; (6) the bureau of soils, which is entrusted with the investigation, survey and mapping of soils; the investigation of the cause and prevention of the rise of alkali in the soil and the drainage of soils; and the investigation of the methods of growing, curing and fermentation of tobacco in the different tobacco districts; (7) the bureau of entomology, which obtains and disseminates information regarding insects injurious to vegetation; (8) the bureau of biological survey, which studies the geographic distribution of animals and plants, and maps the natural life zones of the country; it also investigates the economic relations of birds and mammals, and recommends measures for the preservation of beneficial, and the destruction of injurious, species; (9) the division of accounts and disbursements; (10) the division of publications; (11) the bureau of statistics, which collects information as to the condition, prospects and harvests of the principal crops, and of the number and status of farm animals. It records, tabulates and co-ordinates statistics of agricultural production, distribution and consumption, and issues monthly and annual crop reports for the information of producers and consumers. The section of foreign markets makes investigations and disseminates information concerning the feasibility of extending the demands of foreign markets for the agricultural products of the United States; the bureau also makes investigations of land tenures, cost of producing farm products, country life education, transportation and other lines of rural economies; (12) the library; (13) the office of experiment stations which represents the department in its relations to the experiment stations which are now in operation in all the states; it collects and disseminates general information regarding agricultural schools, colleges, stations, and publishes accounts of agricultural investigations at home and abroad; it also indicates lines of inquiry for the stations, aids in the conduct of co-operative experiments, reports upon their expenditures and work, and in general furnishes them with such advice and assistance as will best promote the purposes for which they were established; it conducts investigations relative to irrigation and drainage; (14) the office of public roads, which collects information concerning systems of road management, conducts investigations regarding the best method of road-making, and prepares publications on this subject.

In the following countries there are state departments of agriculture:—Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, (industry, agriculture and public works), Bulgaria (commerce and agriculture), Denmark, France, Norway (agriculture and public accounts), Italy, Japan (agriculture and commerce), Prussia (agriculture, woods and forests), Russia (agriculture and crown domains), Sweden.

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