Agriculture, United States Department of

Agriculture, United States Department of,

federal executive department established in 1862, whose head was made a cabinet member in 1889. The department administers federal programs related to food production and rural life. The department's principal duty is to aid farmers, but it also serves consumers through its food assistance and food inspection programs. The department is responsible for many different programs, including research, food aid such as food stamps and school meal supplements, the promotion of conservation, and the administration of the national forests and grasslands through the Forest Service. It also stabilizes commodity markets through price supports, diversion of acreage to conservation use, and the disposal of commodities. Its Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services division includes the Farm Service Agency, which provides farmers credit at favorable rates, and its Rural Development division includes the Rural Utilities Service, which extends telephone, electrical, water, and sewer services (see Rural Electrification AdministrationRural Electrification Administration
(REA), former agency of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture charged with administering loan programs for electrification and telephone service in rural areas.
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); finally, its regulatory functions include inspections of meat, dairy, and poultry products, the administration of animal quarantines, and the eradication of animal diseases. The department also runs a graduate school for government employees. The publications of the department are of great value to farmers, horticulturists, and others.


See U.S. Department of Agriculture, Century of Service (1963); study by J. U. Terrell (1966).

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Executive Office of the President, United States Department of Defense, United States Army, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corp, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Commerce, United States Department of Education, United States Department of Energy.
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