Growing a Nation

Historical Timeline — Government Programs & Policy

17th-18th Centuries

18th century
Local governments often regulate the prices of basic foodstuffs

1799
George Washington suggests to Congress the establishment of a National Board of Agriculture

 

1800

1819
State legislature sets up the New York State Board of Agriculture, first organization of this sort

1820

1820-35
Agriculture begins to demand a place in government

1820
Agriculture Committee, U.S. House of Representatives, established

1825
Agriculture Committee, U.S. Senate established

1830
Massachusetts becomes first State to conduct a soil survey

1836
Patent Office created in State Department

1839
$1,000 appropriated for Patent Office work with agricultural statistics

1840

1849
The Patent Office is transferred from the State Department to the newly created Interior Department

1853
New York appoints first State entomologist

 

1860

1862
U.S. Department of Agriculture set up without Cabinet status

1870s
A few States begin to inspect dairy products

1874
Georgia sets up the first State Department of Agriculture

1880

1889
Department of Agriculture raised to Cabinet status

1890, 1891
Meat Inspection Acts

1897
Greater emphasis given to plant exploration and to the increase of agricultural production

1889
Farmers' Alliance develops subtreasury plan

1900

1900-17
Federal Government's role in agriculture grows with passage of farm legislation

1906
Food and Drug Act; Meat Inspection Act

 

1910

1912
Plant Quarantine Act

1914
Cotton Futures Act

1916
Federal Farm Loan Act

1917
Food Control and Production Acts

1920

1914
Cotton Futures Act

1916
Federal Farm Loan Act

1917
Food Control and Production Acts

1930

Early 1930s
First Federal assistance to school lunch program

1933
Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) initiates crop and marketing controls; Farm Credit Act

1935
AAA amended to provide marketing orders and continuing funds for removal of agricultural surpluses; resettlement Administration created to combat rural poverty, leads to 1946 Farmers Home Administration

1936
Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act follows Hoosac Mills decision

1937
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act

1938
Agricultural Adjustment Act provides acreage allotments and quotas, ever-normal granary, price-supporting loans, regional research laboratories, and Federal crop insurance

1939
Food stamp plan begun

1940

1941
National Victory Garden Program launched; Steagall Amendment provides for price support to expand production of nonbasic commodities

1942-49
Price controls and food rationing during wartime emergency

1946
National School Lunch Act; Research and Marketing Act provides for research in improving marketing and distribution of agricultural products

1948, 1949
Agricultural Acts incorporate principle of flexible price support and provide change in parity formula

1950

1950s
Debate about level of farm price support and surpluses

1954
Agricultural Act re-establishes flexible price supports, authorizes commodity set-asides, and provides support payment for wool

1955-72
Increased emphasis on rural development and renewal

1956
Soil Bank Program authorized

1957
Poultry Inspection Act

1958
Humane Slaughter Act

1960

1960s
The Government uses food surpluses for the needy at home and abroad; State legislation to keep land in farming gains impetus

1961, 1962
Agricultural Acts extend and enlarge earlier programs

1964
Food Stamp Act; Agricultural Act provides voluntary control program for cotton and wheat

1965
Appalachian Regional Development Act; Food and Agriculture Act establishes voluntary 4-year price and adjustment program

1966
President's Committee on Rural Poverty appointed; Child Nutrition Act

1967
Wholesome Meat Act

1968
Wholesome Poultry "Products Act"; special food service program for children

1969, 1971
White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health

1970

1970s
Surplus disposal through sales abroad leads to easing of production controls and great reliance on market prices

1970
Agricultural Act reduces controls; Environmental Quality Improvement Act

1972
Rural Development Act

1973
Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act emphasizes maintaining or increasing instead of controlling production

1980

1983
USDA Secretary John Block implements a payment-in-kind (PIK) program, resulting in the third-largest acreage reduction ever

1985
Food Security Act lowers government farm supports, promotes exports, and sets up the Conservation Reserve Program

1989
30 million acres retired under the Conservation Reserve Program of the 1985 Food Security Act

1990-2000

1990
Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act increase farmers' flexibility in planting under government programs

1990
Congress passes the Organic Food Production Act, authorizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a nationwide definition for organic food

1994
USDA reorganizes to streamline functions and improve efficiency

1996
Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act revises farm programs to increase reliance on market signals

1998-99
Emergency farm assistance acts provide relief for disasters and market losses

1999
USDA's Community Food Security Initiative aimed at aiding grass-roots efforts to reduce hunger and improve nutrition

2000
USDA unveils organic standards and official organic seal

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