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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 15, 2010


JAMA. 2010;304(23):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1757

When a Department of Agriculture was proposed, nearly twenty-five years ago, exactly the same objections were raised to its establishment that are now being made to the organization of a federal department of health, except that, as no great fortunes were being made by selling nostrums and cure-alls to or for cows, horses, pigs and chickens, the opposition to the establishment of a department of agriculture did not come from quacks, fakers and swindlers. With this exception, however, the objections were the same: the rights of the state were being invaded; the government was taking up work which did not belong to it; the project was simply an excuse for the expenditure of large sums of money; the people did not approve of it; its establishment would be of no value, etc., etc. The manifold and highly valuable activities of the United States Department of Agriculture at present constitute a striking refutation of the objections made to its establishment. A copy of Circular No. 721 of the Department of Agriculture shows the bulletins, circulars and reprints issued by the Department in the single month of November, 1910. These publications are of interest not only to the farmer but also to the farmer's wife and children, and in many cases, to the entire community. In the list are found such topics as these: some insects injurious to forests; life-history of the codling-moth; field studies of the crown-gall and hairy-root of the apple-tree; experiments in blueberry culture; insects which kill forest trees, character and extent of their depredations and methods of control; directions for the use of black-leg vaccine; a review of some experimental work in pig-feeding; the tapeworms of American chickens and turkeys; tuberculosis of hogs, its cause and suppression.