The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources history rests on the agricultural societies organized in the 1790's. The county chairmen of these societies came together in 1852 to make up the first Board of Agriculture. The Board has served continually for 138 years to promote crop and animal husbandry in the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Board of Agriculture started in 1852, predated the organization of the United States Department of Agriculture in 1862. (1855 Annual Report by Charles L. Flint, Secretary of the Board of Agriculture.) The purpose of the Board and its staff was to represent fairly, every class of agricultural knowledge in the state.
By 1902, the Board had fine-tuned its purpose to taking an active role in the development of the Massachusetts farmer. Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, J.W. Stockwell said in his report, "This Board is on the outlook constantly for such advances in the methods of improved agriculture as shall bring comfort and beauty to the home and content and prosperity to the farmer. It has been alert and quick to protect the farmer in his productions, to investigate and urge the newer lines of safe advancement in method and product, and to stimulate to experiment and achievement in developing and demonstrating and advanced agriculture for the benefit of the state."
The Secretary served the Board of Agriculture from 1852 to 1919, the year the Department of Agriculture was formed.
Today, the Board of Food and Agriculture is chaired by Judy Leab and is comprised of farmers and members of the public with broad geographic representation. The role of the Board is to provide input on policy development and budgetary decisions, as well as approving the hiring and removal of many of the senior staff of the Department of Agricultural Resources.
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