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Logo of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was a United Kingdom government department created by the Board of Agriculture Act 1889 and at that time called the Board of Agriculture.

It became the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1955 and was responsible for agriculture, fisheries and food. Until the Food Standards Agency was created, it was responsible for both food production and food safety, which was seen by some to give rise to a conflict of interest.

MAFF was widely criticised for its handling of the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (more widely known as Mad Cow Disease) and later the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001. It was merged with the part of the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions that dealt with the environment (and with a small part of the Home Office) to create a new government department, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2001. MAFF was formally dissolved on 27 March 2002, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Dissolution) Order 2002 (S.I. 2002/794) came into force.

It was the last Ministry of the United Kingdom government not to be a Department of State. The Ministry of Defence continues to be known as a Ministry although it has been a Department since the 1960s.

Contents

Background

The Board of Agriculture, which later become the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), was established under the Board of Agriculture Act 1889. It was preceded, however, by an earlier Board of Agriculture, founded by Royal Charter on 23 August 1793 as the Board or Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture and Internal Improvement, which lasted until it was dissolved in June 1822.

A significant predecessor of the second Board of Agriculture (later MAFF) was the Tithe Commission, which was set up in 1841 under the Tithe Act 1836 and amalgamated with the Enclosure Commissioners and the Copyhold Commissioners to become the Lord Commissioners for England and Wales under the Settled Land Act 1882, responsible to the Home Secretary, which became the Land Department of the new Board of Agriculture in 1889. Another predecessor was the Cattle Plague Department, set up by the Home Office to deal with an outbreak of rinderpest in London in June 1865. This was renamed the Veterinary Department of the Privy Council in 1869 and became part of the new Board of Agriculture in 1889.

Board of Agriculture

The Board of Agriculture Act 1889, passed on 12 August, established the Board of Agriculture and combined all Government responsibilities for agricultural matters in one department. The first President of the new Board was the Rt. Hon. Henry Chaplin, there were 90 members of staff and the first annual estimate was for £55,000. The following year, the Board took responsibility for the Ordnance Survey and in 1903, it took responsibility for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Also in 1903, an Act was passed to transfer certain powers and duties relating to the fishing industry from the Board of Trade to what then became the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries.

In 1904, the Board appointed honorary agricultural correspondents throughout the country to liaise with the Board on Regional Matters and to give advice to farmers. In 1911, responsibility for all agricultural matters in Scotland except animal health was transferred to a newly created Board of Agriculture for Scotland. Meanwhile, the country was increasingly becoming dependence on imported food. By 1914, the output of home-grown food only met one-third of the country's needs.

World War I

War was declared on 4 August 1914. Good harvests and little interruption to imports of food during the first two years of meant that there were no shortages of food. The agricultural situation then changed for the worse with a poor crop harvest, failure of the potato crop, declining harvest abroad and increased shipping losses. In 1916, Rowland Prothero was appointed President of the Board of Agriculture with a seat in the Cabinet and with the aim of stimulating food production.

In December 1916, a Ministry of Food was created under the New Ministries & Secretaries Act 1916 and Lord Devonport appointed Food Controller to regulate the supply and consumption of food and to encourage food production. A Food Production Department was established by the Board of Agriculture in 1917 to organise and distribute agricultural inputs, such as labour, feed, fertiliser and machinery, and increase output of crops. Provision of labour provided considerable difficulty as many men working on farms had enlisted but co-operation between the War Office and the Board enabled men to be released to help with spring cultivation and harvest. Also in 1917, the Women's Land Army was created to provide substitutes for men called up to the forces.

The Corn Production Act 1917 guaranteed minimum prices for wheat and oats, specified a minimum wage for agricultural workers and established the Agricultural Wages Board, to ensure stability for farmers and a share of this stability for agricultural workers. The aim was to increase output of home-grown food and reduce dependence on imports. In June 1917, Lord Devonport resigned as Food Controller to be replaced by Lord Rhondda, who introduced compulsory rationing of meat, sugar and butter in early 1918. By 1918, there were controls over almost all aspects of farming; the Food Controller bought all essential food supplies and the Corn Production Act guaranteed cereal prices. Lord Rhondda died on 1 July 1918 and was succeeded by John Clynes, MP. The armistice treaty ending World War I was signed on 11 November 1918. Following the war, the Food Controller resigned in 1919 and the Ministry of Food progressively wound down and closed on 31 March 1921.

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Act 1919 abolished the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries and created the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which took on the powers of the Board and the remaining functions of the Food Production Department established during the war. In 1919, prices of farm produce had risen by 25% compared to prices at the end of the war. The Agricultural Act 1920 set out guaranteed prices for wheat and oats based on the 1919 averages, to be reviewed annually. However, in the early 1920s, prices fell drastically, the Act was repealed, guaranteed prices were replaced by lump sum payments and the Agricultural Wages Board abolished, as part of the Government's deflationary policies. By 1922, virtually all of war-time controls had gone. The area under cultivation in Britain fell from 12 million acres (49,000 km²) in 1918 to 9 million acres (36,000 km²) in 1926. Farm prices continued to decline and then fell by 34% in the three years after 1929.

During this period, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries remained a small department concerned with pest and disease control, agricultural research and education, improvement of livestock, and provision of allotments and smallholdings. Over the next few years, its workload grew.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Government introduce new measures to support domestic agriculture and farmers' income. Subsidies or price insurance schemes were created for sugar beet, wheat, cattle, dairy and sheep. The Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marketing) Act 1928 promoted the standardisation of grades and packaging and introduced the "National Mark", a trade mark denoting home-produced food of a defined quality for eggs, beef, apples and pears. The Agricultural Marketing Acts of 1931 and 1933 sought to organise farmers into co-operative marketing associations and created Marketing Boards for bacon, pigs, hops, milk and potatoes. The Import Duties Act 1932 introduced a tariff on most imports including fruit and vegetables and quotas on imports of bacon, ham and other meat products. In 1936, the tithe rent charge was abolished, compensation paid to the Church and the money recovered from farmers over a 60-year period. In 1937, a scheme was introduce to subsidise the spread of lime on agricultural land to boost the fertility of the soil. The Minister of Agriculture was given powers to regulate the cultivation and management of land, end tenancies, even take possession of land, under the Defence of the Realm regulations. On 1 September 1939, much of these powers were delegated to County War Agricultural Executive Committees ("War Ags").

World War II

War was declared on 3 September 1939. The UK entered the war well prepared for the maintenance of supplies of food but with less than 40% of the country's needs produced at home. The Ministry of Food was formed on 8 September and William Morrison appointed Minister. The Ministry of Food became the sole buyer and importer of food and regulated prices, guaranteeing farmers prices and markets for their produce. The Marketing Boards, except for milk and hops, were suspended.

Recruiting began for the Women's Land Army and in 1940, food rationing was introduced. Lord Woolton succeeded William Morrison as Minister for Food. In 1941, the US Land-Lease act was passed under which food, agricultural machinery and equipment was sent from the US to the UK.

See also

References

  • Sinclair, J. (1796). Account of the origin of the Board of Agriculture and its progress for three years after its establishment. London: W. Bulmer and Co.
  • Lord Ernle, edited by Hall, G. (1956), English Farming Past and Present, 5th Edition. London: Longmans, Green and Co., Chapter XIX The War and State Control, 1914-1918.
  • Foreman, S. (1991). Loaves and Fishes, an illustrated history of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 1889-1999. London: MAFF.
  • Debate on draft Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Dissolution) Order 2002, Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, 22 January 2002.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOARD OF. AGRICULTURE 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 1899, 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 coordinates 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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