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In 1899, an act was passed creating the State Board of Agriculture. The Governor was authorized to appoint three commissioners, who upon approval of the Senate, served a term of three years with one Commissioner serving as President of the Board. The Board was empowered to abate, suppress, eradicate, and prevent the San Jose Scale, peach yellows, pear blight, and all other contagious, infections or injuriously dangerous diseases of fruit trees, plants, vegetables, cereals, and domestic animals by seeking out and suppressing all injurious insect pests destructive to the agricultural and horticultural interests of the State. To accomplish this end, the Board was authorized to conduct experiments, mark in a conspicuous way all diseased or insect infested plants, notify their owners, and prescribe the proper treatments and remedies thereof. If the owners of the diseased plants did not apply the recommended treatments within ten days, the Board would have its own agents do so at the owner’s expense. In addition, the Board could destroy, at the owner’s expense, any plants it deemed dangerous in order to prevent the dissemination of insects and diseases. If the owners then refused to pay such expenses within thirty days they were charged with a misdemeanor and if convicted by the Justice of the Peace or Superior Court were fined double to original expense and court costs. At least once a year, the Board sent one or more agents into each county to inspect the healthfulness and general condition of the horticultural and agricultural interests. These agents were authorized to enter upon any premises private or public for purposes of conducting said inspections. Nurseries had to pass an annual inspection in order to earn a certificate of inspection necessary for shipping vegetation. The agents prime duties were to warn and protect people against the dangers of disease or insect infestation and the remedies to cure them.
Other early duties of the Board included devising and executing plans for securing the immigration of industrious and useful settlers to this state which involved preparing, publishing and circulating pamphlets professing the agricultural and other resources of the state like the Development Office does today; making, adopting, and changing rules for the government of the Board; employing and discharging all employees necessary to carry out the duties of the office and make rules for their proper government; and to report annually to the Governor.1
By 1903, the General Assembly felt that the agricultural interests of the state were of primary importance and pressed the Board to devise and execute any measures necessary to develop said interests within the state. The Assembly passed an act making the State Board of Agriculture concurrently a Board of Immigration Commissioners* with the Governor serving as an ex-officio member. In respect to this office, the Board’s new duties included using all proper means to induce immigration into the state including advertising through the media in Europe and elsewhere providing they didn’t attract undesirables who might endanger the public morals, health, peace, or good order of the native Delawareans; preparing and publishing pamphlets including maps of the state, articles correctly describing the development and undeveloped agricultural interests within the state, and information concerning the general adaptation of the soil of the different counties for various products; properly representing the advantages of schools, climate, soil, diversity of crops grown, and institutions devoted to teaching communication skills to foreigners; contracting agents to go to Europe and elsewhere to encourage immigration; contracting with railroads, steamboat lines and other transportation companies to secure low fares for emigrants and preparing for their reception and temporary accommodation; encouraging, advising, and supporting the establishment of local agricultural societies for the procuring of foreign labor; and reporting annually to the Governor.2 In 1921 this Board of Immigration was abolished.

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In 1910, the importation of cattle into the state was prohibited unless they were accompanied by a certificate of inspection completed by a competent authority from the state whence they came stating that they passed the tuberculin test and were free from disease, or unless they were shipped to Delaware in quarantine where they remained until examined by a Board designated veterinarian, at the owner’s expense.3
A State Live Stock Sanitary Board was established in 1911, consisting of the members of the State Board of Agriculture and were veterinarian appointed by the Governor. The members duties were to protect the health of the domestic animals of the state, and to determine and employ the most efficient and practical means for the prevention, suppression, control or eradication of dangerous, contagious or infectious diseases. For this end, the Board was authorized and empowered to establish, maintain, enforce and regulate quarantine and other measures relating to the movements and care of animals and their products.4 In 1921 this Board was abolished and its responsibilities assumed by the State Board of Agriculture.
Also in 1921, the State Board of Agriculture established a Bureau of Markets and Marketing to investigate the cost of production and marketing in all its phases; to gather and disseminate information concerning supply, demand, prevailing prices, and commercial movements, including common and cold storage of food products; to promote, assist and encourage the improvement of the relations among producers, distributors and consumers of food products; to have the power to make and enforce rules and regulations for the grading, packing, handling, storage and sale of all food products within the State; to investigate the practice and methods and any specific transaction of commission, or otherwise deal with food products; to act as a mediator or arbitrator, when invited, in any controversy or issue that may arise between producers and distributors which affect the interest of the consumer; to act on behalf of the consumer in conserving and protecting their interests against excessive prices; to act as market advisor for producers and distributors, assisting them in economical and efficient distribution of food products at fair prices; to encourage the establishment of retail municipal markets and to develop direct dealing between producers and consumers; to encourage the consumption of Delaware grown products within the State; to inspect and determine the grade and condition of farm produce both at collecting and receiving centers; and to ship, transport, and store food stuffs of any kind as may be necessary in case of an emergency creating or threatening to create a scarcity of food within the state.5
Before any seller could market any commercial feeding stuffs, every lot or parcel had to be labeled with the contents and each trademark or brand had to be registered for certification by the Board. In addition, every manufacturer or vendor of feeding stuffs had to annually file, under oath, with the State Treasurer a statement showing the number of tons he sold within the State the preceding year. Having done these things properly, the Board would issue a license permitting the sale of feeding stuffs to the seller. No seller could change an ingredient without the approval of the Board. Authorized agents of the Board had free access to inspect, during reasonable business hours, any place of business, mills, buildings, carriages, cars, vessels, and parcels used in the manufacture, transportation, sale, or storage of any commercial feeding stuffs.
Also another act passed in 1921 was an act to protect the public health and to prevent fraud and deception by regulating the weighing, testing, buying, and selling of milk and cream through appointed certified testers, by issuing licenses and enforcing penalties for violators. The Board issued permits good for one year to every creamery, shipping station, milk factor or condenser, cheese factory, ice cream factory or person receiving, buying, paying for, and selling milk or cream based on the amount of, or with reference to, the amount of butterfat it contained. These permits were subject to revocation if violated. Individuals buying milk or cream for private use, or for hotels, restaurants, boarding houses, railroad dining cars, and drug stores were exempt from the permit requirement. Board members and their agents could enter any premises to examine the books and records and the testing apparatus.

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The State Board of Agriculture’s authority further increased in 1923, when it was given the power to make and enforce the rules and regulations for the grading, packing, handling, storage, and sale of all food products within the State; to inspect these products; and to issue certificates showing the grade or classification at the time of inspection.6 Also in 1923, specifics for the encouragement of the breeding of better poultry and the improvement in the quality of hatching eggs and chicks were set forth. The Board was empowered to inspect poultry flocks and chick hatcheries throughout the State and issue certificates to the owners stating that their establishment passed the standards developed by the Board. Having passed, owners could then request of the Board labels stating “Accredited Flocks” and “Certified Hatcheries” to be used in distribution.
Additionally in 1923, an act was passed to set up the standards for regulating the purity of milk and milk products for commercial purposes. That same year, ten thousand dollars was appropriated for the purpose of purchasing anti-hog cholera serum and virus. Lastly, an act passed regulating the contents, labeling, licensing, and inspection of marketable liming materials.
In 1925, an emergency fund of twelve thousand five hundred dollars was appropriated to re-supply the exhausted funds employed by the Board in the eradication of tuberculosis in cattle.7 An additional fourteen thousand dollars was appropriated for the purchase of anti-hog cholera serum and virus.8 Furthermore, the Board was authorized and directed to purchase seeds or seedlings to re-forest the parks, wood lots, timber tracks, or other treeless lands and to distribute them to the counties, municipalities, towns, corporations, and individuals desiring to plant them in the best interests of the state.9 An act regulating the inspection, certification, and sale of seeds went into effect in 1929.10
By 1939, the Board was empowered not only to compensate persons owning cattle infected with tuberculosis, as provided for in 1921, but also those infected with Bang’s Disease.
In 1970, the Department of Agriculture was established and assumed all the powers and duties of the State Board of Agriculture, the Bureau of Markets, the State Chemist, the State Apiarist, the State Division of Weights and Measures, the State Forestry Department and Commission, and the State Farmland Evaluation Advisory Committee. In addition, five new agencies were created and placed under the jurisdiction of the Department, those being the Division of Standards and Inspections, the Division of Production and Promotion, the Council on Apple Promotion (formerly the Delaware State Apple Commission), the Council on Poultry Promotion (formerly the Delaware State Poultry Commission), and the Governor’s Council on Agriculture. At this time the State Board of Agriculture ceased to exist as an entity, and its Commissioners became advisors on the Governor’s Council. The new Councils on Apple Promotion and Poultry Promotion serve in an advisory capacity to the Director of Production and Promotion concerning matters relating to planning and conducting campaigns of education, advertising, publicity, sales promotion and research for the purpose of increasing the demand for and the consumption of Delaware apples and poultry. Both Councils study, research, plan and advise the Director, the Secretary and the Governor on matters they deem appropriate to enable the Division to function most efficiently.
The Governor’s Council on Agriculture is composed of seven members, originally being three Commissioners of the State Board of Agriculture and four new members appointed by the Governor. The Council studies, researches, plans, advises, recommends, and refers matters concerning the Department of Agriculture to the Secretary of said department and the Governor. The Council has access to all books, records, reports, and other documents relating to the Department, and the various councils of the divisions of the Department have access to all records relating to their respective divisions. The chairmen of all of the councils of the divisions within the Department of Agriculture report annually to the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the Governor, and the General Assembly. The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture annually reports the activities of the office to the Governor and the General Assembly.11

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In 1971, an act was passed to authorize the Department of Agriculture to regulate pesticides in the interest of the overall public welfare; to protect the consumer by requiring that pesticides sold be correctly labeled with adequate directions for use and warnings; and to restrict the use of any pesticides found to be hazardous to man or to his environment.12
In 1975, the Secretary of Agriculture was appointed to serve on a Committee created to plan for the acquiring, construction, and operating of a Delaware Agriculture Museum.13 The following year, the Delaware Agriculture Museum Board was created to build, operate, and manage the new Museum of Delaware Agriculture and the Secretary of Agriculture or his designee was appointed to serve upon it.14 DuPont Executive Order Number Eighty-Four, dated March 12, 1980, established the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Farmland Preservation in response to the continued loss of farmland in Delaware, such loss is a treat to the States’ national, economic and social interests. The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, ex-officio, was appointed to serve on this committee until it expired on March 1, 1981.15 Subsequently, the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Act of 1981 was passed to conserve, protect, and enhance the state’s agricultural economic base. The Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Office of Management, Budget, and Planning routinely collects, analyzes, and reports on the extent, location, and causes of farmland loss and then recommends techniques to maintain agriculture as an important and viable economic activity. The Secretary of Agriculture must report annually to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Governor’s Council on Agriculture on the extent, location, and causes of farmland loss.16
In 1984, the Council on Poultry Promotion was abolished,17 and the following year, the Council on Apple Promotion met the same fate.18 Also in 1985, the Delaware Agriculture Marketing Fund was created to hold all revenues derived from the sale of promotion and marketing products under the administration of the Department of Agriculture until such funds could be used again to promote or market Delaware agriculture.19

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1 21 D.L., ch. 216.

2 22 D.L., ch. 332, 333.

3 25 D.L., ch. 122.

4 26 D.L., ch. 78.

5 32 D.L., ch. 33.

6 33 D.L., ch. 54.

7 34 D.L., ch. 59.

8 34 D.L., ch. 61.

9 34 D.L., ch. 62.

10 36 D.L., ch. 91.

11 57 D.L., ch. 368.

12 58 D.L., ch. 166.

13 60 D.L., ch. 70.

14 60 D.L., ch. 656.

15 62 D.L., ch. 462.

16 63 D.L., ch. 118.

17 64 D.L., ch. 294.

18 65 D.L., ch. 174.

19 65 D.L., ch. 166.
jmm/April 26, 1988; June 13, 1988

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