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DIGEST OF LAWS OF THE SEVERAL STATES RELATING TO BOARDS AND
INTRODUCTION. Organizations for the promotion of agriculture, maintained either in whole or in part by the State governments, are found in nearly every State in the Union. State Boards of Agriculture, the most common form of organization for that purpose established by law and maintained at public expense, are found in about half the States. The other typical form is a Department or Bureau of Agriculture, presided over by a single officer, usually designated as Commissioner of Agriculture. In several cases, however, this office combines a number of functions, and his bureau is known as the Bureau of Agriculture and Immigration; the Bureau of Agriculture, Labor, and Industry; the Bureau of Agriculture, Statistics, and Mines, or the like. These commissioners are found chiefly in the South, but also in Maine, New York, and North Dakota, while in Pennsylvania there is a department of the State government presided over by a Secretary of Agriculture. Finally, in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa the place of a Board of Agriculture is filled to a greater or less extent by the executive committee or board of directors or managers of the State Agricultural Society; and in Utah a similar arrangement is in effect with the directors of the Deseret. Agricultural and Manufacturing Society.
The two principal modes of designating the members of State Boards of Agriculture are election by State and local agricultural societies or their delegates, and appointment by the Governor, usually subject to confirmation by the upper house of the legislature. In some States the two methods are combined, a part of the members being appointed by the executive and a part chosen by agricultural societies. It is common also for certain officials to be designated members of the board ex officio, the Governor and the president of the State agricultural college being often so designated. In a few States the members of the State board are elected at annual meetings by delegates from local societies, who are declared to be for the time being ex officio members of the board itself, while in New Jersey all the members of all the agricultural and horticultural societies, farmers' clubs, and granges in the State are declared to be members of the State Board of Agriculture. In several cases the members of the Boards of Agriculture are required to be appointed from more than one political party. The Commissioners of Agriculture in some States are elected by the people like other State officers; in other cases they are appointed by the executive.
The members of the State Boards of Agriculture commonly serve without compensation, other than the expenses incident upon attending the meetings and performing their official duties. The actual executive work is usually in charge of a salaried secretary chosen by the board, in some instances from its own number. The functions of this officer therefore correspond somewhat closely to thoseof the Commissioner of Agriculture in States having such officials. In some States there is both a State Board of Agriculture and a Commissioner of Agriculture who acts as its executive officer; while in Kentucky the Commissioner of Agriculture, Labor, and Statistics is assisted by an advisory board.
While it is sufficiently correct to say that all these Boards and Departments or Bureaus of Agriculture have been created for the purpose of promoting agricultural and kindred interests, there is a wide variation in the specific duties assigned to them in different States. In most cases, however, they are charged, among other things, with the collection of agricultural statistics, or other information relating to agriculture, or both, to be included in their published reports. In certain other States the collection of agricultural statistics is made a part of the work of a statistical bureau independent of the Board or Commissioner of Agriculture, and in some cases it is made a duty of more than one authority.
Many of the Boards and Commissionersof Agriculture are directed to encourage the formation of local agricultural societies, and in some cases they are authorized also to make rules and regulations for the organization and government of such societies, and to require reports from them at stated intervals.
In several Western States the State Board of Agriculture is an outgrowth of a State Agricultural Society, the officers of the society having at some time been constituted a State Board. In these cases the State Agricultural Society continues its existence, but is under the control of the board. In these cases, and also in several other Western States, the State board has charge of the annual State fair, while in Washington the body corresponding most closely to a Board of Agriculture is the State Fair Commission, and a similar commission has recently been created in New York. In a majority of the States, however, the holding of fairs is left to the voluntary action of State and local agricultural societies, though in many cases appropriations are made from the public funds, either State or county, or both, to aid in the payment of premiums, etc.
The gratuitous distribution of rare and valuable seeds, plants, etc., including seeds obtained for that purpose from the United States Department of Agriculture, is made a duty of the Boards or Commissioners of Agriculture in several States. In some cases the seeds and plants are to be given only to persons who will agree to cultivate them properly and report the results.
The encouragement of immigration is made a function of these officials in a number of States where immigration is desired, chiefly in the South and West, and in some cases this function carries with it the duty of preparing State handbooks or other printed matter setting forth the resources and advantages of the State. In some Southern States the commissioner is directed to keep a record of lands for sale within the State, corresponding to the lists of abandoned farms published by New England Boards of Agriculture; while in one or two cases provision is made for a public employment registry for the benefit of immigrants and others and the convenience of employers, corresponding to the employment bureaus established in other States under the Bureaus of Labor.
In a number of Southern States the Commissioner of Agriculture has charge of a geological survey of the State, or has under his direction a geologist engaged in the analysis of soils, etc.; and in some cases he is directed to keep at his office a museum or cabinet containing specimens of the various products of the State.
In a few cases the State Board of Agriculture has been made the governing body of the State agricultural college, while in South Carolina this process has been reversed, the usual functions of a Board of Agriculture being assigned to the trustees of Clemson College. In several other States the Board or Commissioner of Agriculture has some supervisory powers in connection with the agricultural college and experiment station, extending in some cases to the State weather service also, or to other State institutions for the benefit of agriculture.
Certain functions which are in some States assigned to the Board or Commissioner of Agriculture are in other States assigned to the officers of the experiment station or to an independent official or board. Among these functions may be mentioned the holding of farmers' institutes, the suppression of insect pests and of contagious diseases among animals, and the inspection and control of commercial fertilizers, and, in a few States, of commercial feeding stuffs. Still other duties, as, for example, in connection with forestry, fish culture, or other interests, are assigned to the Board or Commissioner of Agriculture in isolated cases.
Farmers' institutes.-Farmers' institutes are now held in a majority of the States, usually under the direction of the Board or Commissioner of Agriculture or of the agricultural college or experiment station, but in some cases under the management of a superintendent of farmers' institutes appointed solely for that purpose. There is much variation in the plan of organization of the institutes, their control being much more centralized in some States than in others. The plan which has been most generally adopted seems to be some form of cooperation between the State officials and the local organizations under whose auspices the institutes are held, part of the speakers being lecturers engaged to travel from point to point and paid from the State treasury, and others being local volunteers.
Diseases of animals and insect pests.—All the States have statutes, more or less elaborate, intended to prevent the spread of contagious diseases among domestic animals, and in most cases there are also provisions for the suppression of insect pests, especially on fruit trees and vines. The administration of the laws against injurious insects is in a few States intrusted to a State Board of Horticulture, or, in the case of Washington, to a Commissioner of Horticulture. In other States this duty is performed by a Board of Entomology or by a State Entomologist connected with the experiment station or with the State Department or Bureau of Agriculture. In some cases local inspectors are appointed by the central authority; in other cases the county supervisors appoint local inspectors. The control of diseases among animals is often intrusted to a Live-stock Sanitary Board, the State Board of Health, or a State Veterinarian acting under the direction of some such board or of the Commissioner or Board of Agriculture. In cases where it is necessary to destroy animals to prevent the spread of disease some compensation to the owner is commonly provided for. This is sometimes limited to one-half or three-fourths of the value of the animal, or to a