Department of Agriculture/193
ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS
The Department of Agriculture traces its origin to the Maryland Agricultural College, chartered in
1856. After the federal Morrili Land Grant Act of 1862 offered each state proceeds from sales of federal
lands to fund a college reaching agriculture and mechanical arts, the College became Maryland's land-grant
institution in 1864. While certain agricultural duties were assigned briefly to the Superintendent of Labor
and Agriculture in 1867, they later became the responsibility of the College (Constitution of 1867, Art.
10). As the State agricultural agency, the College regulated fertilizers (1886), and live stock sanitation
(1888), and inspected nurseries, trees, feeds, tobacco, seeds, honeybees, and fruit. The College acquired
an agricultural experiment station under the federal Hatch Act of 1887. Professors of the College and
Experiment Station served as State Entomologist, State Pathologist, and State Horticulruralist to identify
and eradicate insect pests and diseases (Chapter 289, Acts of 1898). Farmers' institutes were held during
winter months until replaced by the Agricultural Extension Service, created by federal and Stare laws in
In 1908, the Board of Trustees of the Maryland Agricultural College became ex officio the State Board
of Agriculture (Chapter 161, Acts of 1908). When the College merged with the University of Maryland
in 1920, the University's Board of Regents assumed the responsibilities of the State Board of Agriculture.
Although duties of the former trustees of the Agricultural College were solely concerned with agriculture,
the Board of Regents became responsible for an entire university of diverse interests. To respond to the
special needs of agriculture, the State created the Department of Agriculture in 1972 (Chapter 342, Acts
of 1972). All regulatory and advisory functions were reorganized and transferred to the new Department,
while agricultural research functions and the Extension Service were retained by the University.
Since agriculture is vital to Maryland's economy the Department's main purpose is to help farmers
produce high-quality commodities. To this end, the Department eradicates disease in livestock and poultry,
controls insect pests and weeds which threaten field crops, inspects seeds and fertilizers to ensure maximum
yields, and disseminates market reports and statistics to help farmers plan farm production. The Depart-
ment also protects the environment by regulating the use of pesticides, implementing sound soil
conservation methods, and preserving valuable agricultural land. In addition, the Department protects
consumers by inspecting and grading agricultural commodities to ensure market quality, oversees the
practice of veterinary medicine, and inspects the weighing and packaging of a wide range of products.
Finally the Department promotes Maryland agriculture, seeks out new markets, and implements new
initiatives such as aquaculrure.
Under the Secretary of Agriculture, the Department is organized into five main offices: Administrative
Services, Animal Health and Consumer Services, Plant Industries and Pest Management, Resource
Conservation, and Marketing and Agricultural Development. The Department also is served by the Board
of Review and the Maryland Agricultural Commission. The Secretary of Agriculture appoints the State
Chemist, State Veterinarian, and the Chief of Weights and Measures.
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
The Office of the Secretary provides executive
direction for the Department. The Secretary is the
chief executive officer and is appointed by the
Governor with Senate advice and consent. Respon-
sible for day-to-day operations, the Deputy
Secretary is appointed by the Secretary with the
The Office of the Secretary includes the Office
of the Assistant Attorney General, internal audit,
intergovernmental and public information func-
tions, Office of Aquaculture Programs, and Office
of Administrative Services (Code Agriculture Ar-
ticle, sees. 2-101 through 2-108).
BOARD OF REVIEW
Charles E. Brown, Chairperson, 1993
Appointed by Governor (who also designates chair) with
Senate advice & consent: John C. Herbst, 1992;
Harold H. Holbrook, 1992; Roger L. Richardson,
1993; Paul A. Crowl, 1994; Arthur Howard Peck,
D.V.M., 1994; Richard W. Wright, 1994.
The Board of Review hears and determines ap-
peals from any decision of the Secretary of Agricul-
ture or agency of the Department subject to judicial
review under the Administrative Procedure Act
(Code Agriculture Article, sees. 2-401 through 2-