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Department of Agriculture - RG 201 | Illinois State Archives

Name: Department of Agriculture - RG 201

Historical Note:

The state's first Department of Agriculture was created in 1871 to promote agriculture and horticulture and related manufactures and domestic arts. Its business was conducted by a State Board of Agriculture made up of representatives from each of the state's U.S. congressional districts (L. 1871, pp. 113-114). The present Department of Agriculture was created by the Civil Administrative Code of 1917 succeeding to the powers and duties of the former department and board and to those of the Livestock Commissioners, the State Veterinarian, the Stallion Registration Board, the State Inspector of Apiaries, the State Food Commissioners, and the State Entomologist. Included in the department's responsibilities were the annual collection and publication of agricultural statistics, the organization and management of an annual state fair, the custody of the state fairgrounds, and the preservation, distribution, introduction, and restoration of fish and game. In 1925 the game and fish division was transferred to the newly created Department of Conservation. (L. 1925, p. 585).

When the Department of Trade and Commerce was abolished in 1933 the Department of Agriculture received from it the responsibilities for inspecting grain and warehouses and for standardizing weights and measures (L. 1933, p. 1061). Authority for setting the rules and regulations regarding such inspections was assigned to the Illinois Commerce Commission from 1941 until it was returned to the Department of Agriculture in 1957 (L. 1941, vol. 1, p. 1032; L. 1957, p. 71), but the responsibility for actually performing the inspections at all times remained with the department. Organization and management of the State Fair was transferred in 1965 to the State Fair Agency (L. 1965, p. 1989). All records, property, and employees needed for the operation of the State Fair were transferred from the Department of Agriculture's Division of the State Fair to the newly created State Fair Agency.

The State Fair Board, composed of fifteen members, superseded the State Fair Agency in 1975 (P.A. 79-1129, p. 3469). Although organized along different lines, the State Fair Board retained the same powers and duties exercised by the defunct State Fair Agency (P.A. 79-1129, pp. 3471-3473). The State Fair Board was abolished in 1979 and its responsibilities were returned to the Department of Agriculture where its authority rests in the Division of Fairs and Horse Racing (P.A. 81-853, pp. 3108-3113).

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