The Secretary of Agriculture is the chief executive officer of the Department. The Secretary is appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. Responsible for daily operations, the Deputy Secretary is appointed by the Secretary with the Governor's approval. The Secretary of Agriculture also appoints the State Chemist, the State Veterinarian, and the Chief of Weights and Measures.

The Secretary serves on the Governor's Executive Council; the Governor's Council on the Chesapeake Bay; the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission; the Chesapeake Bay Trust; the Governor's Pesticide Council; and the Board of Regents, University System of Maryland. The Secretary also serves on the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation; the Maryland Food Center Authority; the Seafood Marketing Advisory Commission; the State Soil Conservation Committee; the Scenic and Wild Rivers Review Board; the State Use Industries Advisory Committee; the Maryland Winery and Grape Growers' Advisory Board; the Interagency Economic Growth, Resource Protection, and Planning Committee; and the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee for Minority Affairs.

The Office of the Secretary includes the principal counsel; intergovernmental and public information functions; internal audit; and Chesapeake Bay Agricultural Programs (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-101 through 2-108).

The Board of Review hears and determines appeals from any decision of the Secretary of Agriculture or agency of the Department subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent, the Board's seven members serve three-year terms. The Governor names the chair (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-401 through 2-405).

The Maryland Agricultural Commission was formed in 1961 as the Agricultural Advisory Board (Chapter 470, Acts of 1961). The Board was renamed the Maryland Agricultural Commission in 1968 (Chapter 552, Acts of 1968). The Commission's chief function is to advance Maryland agriculture and advise the Secretary of Agriculture on agricultural matters. The Commission proposes agricultural improvements, promotes State agricultural industries and products, and reviews legislation for its impact on agriculture.

The Commission consists of twenty-four members. Twenty-three are appointed by the Governor for three-year terms. One serves ex officio (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-201 through 2-205).

With the Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1987, states in the Bay region will reduce nutrient loadings of phosphorous and nitrogen into the Bay by 40 percent by the year 2000. Working in tandem with farmers in Maryland, agricultural and natural resources agencies have developed a plan to curb nutrient runoff from farmland. The plan sets forth goals and actions needed to meet the commitments of the Bay Agreement.

Agriculture also is significant in the tributary focus of the Bay cleanup. The Department and its agricultural partners work with farmers across the State on nutrient reduction strategies for ten key tributary basins within the Chesapeake watershed.


The Office of Administrative Services oversees central services, data systems services, fiscal services, and personnel services, as well as the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation.


The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation was started in 1977 (Chapter 784, Acts of 1977). The Foundation implements the Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The Program's intent is to preserve productive agricultural land and woodland in Maryland, provide for the continued production of food and fiber, curb the extent of urban sprawl, and protect agricultural land and woodland as open space. The Program depends on the cooperation of county governments, which appoint local agricultural preservation advisory boards. Participation in the Program is voluntary on the part of landowners.

By agreement with the Foundation, landowners may initiate the creation of an Agricultural Preservation District in which subdivision and development are restricted for at least five years. The creation of such a district protects normal agricultural activities and enables landowners to make application to sell a development rights easement. Based upon the availability of funds allocated by the counties, the Foundation may acquire easements in accord with a competitive formula defined by law and subject to local recommendation and appraisal. Easements thus acquired are perpetual but may be repurchased after twenty-five years if certain procedures and requirements are met. By gift, devise, bequest, or grant, the Foundation also may receive easements in gross or other rights to restrict the use of agricultural land and woodland.

Maryland has preserved more farmland than any other state. By June 30, 1994, Maryland had saved 263,986 acres in agricultural preservation districts and acquired permanent development rights easements on 109,909 acres.

The Foundation is governed and administered by a twelve-member Board of Trustees. Nine at-large members are appointed to 4-year terms by the Governor who names one of these the chair. Three members serve ex officio. Upon recommendation of the nine at-large Trustees, the Secretary of Agriculture appoints the Executive Director (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-501 through 2-515).


The Office of Marketing, Animal Industries, and Consumer Services began in 1973 as the Division of Animal Industries within the Department of Agriculture. By 1978, the Division was renamed the Office of Animal Health and, by 1980, the Office of Animal Health and Consumer Services. It was reorganized as the Office of Food Safety and Consumer Services in 1992 and received its present name in March 1997.

The Office directs six sections: Agricultural Statistics Service; Animal Health; Aquaculture Development and Seafood Marketing; Egg Inspection, Grading and Grain; Marketing and Agricultural Development; and Weights and Measures. The Assistant Secretary also oversees the State Board of Inspection of Horse Riding Stables and the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Formed in 1968, the State Board of Inspection of Horse Riding Stables transferred from the Department of Licensing and Regulation to the Department of Agriculture in 1980 (Chapter 474, Acts of 1968; Chapter 618, Acts of 1980). The Board licenses all horse riding stables where one or more horses or ponies are let for hire to be ridden or driven. It also licenses sales barns, establishments that stable five or more horses for pay or where five or more horses are sold annually.

With the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Board may appoint a qualified inspector and designate officers of county humane societies, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and licensed veterinarians to act as its agents and make inspections.

The Board consists of five members appointed to four-year terms by the Governor with the advice of the Secretary of Agriculture. Authorization for the Board continues until July 1, 2001 (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-701 through 2-719).

The State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners dates to 1894 (Chapter 273, Acts of 1894). The Board examines candidates for licenses to practice veterinary medicine in the State and judges their qualifications. Annually, it registers veterinarians and inspects veterinary hospitals. Upon complaints of illegal or unethical practices or sanitary violations, the Board may conduct hearings and pass judgment upon the charges. Court proceedings may be instituted by the Board against persons engaged in illegal practices.

The Board has seven members. They are appointed to five-year terms by the Governor upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and with Senate advice and consent. Authorization for the Board continues until July 1, 2001 (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 2-301 through 2-313).


The Agricultural Statistics Service originated as the Statistical Reporting Service in the mid-19th century and received its present name in 1986. The Service collects, summarizes, and publishes data relating to the production and marketing of agricultural products, agriculture prices and income, and other statistics pertinent to agriculture and agribusiness. State statistics generally are available for acreage, yield, and production of major field crops, vegetables, fruits, livestock, and poultry; and monthly and seasonal or annual average prices, farm expenditures, and labor. For some commodities the Service also compiles county statistics.

The Service issues the following publications:


Duties of the Animal Health Section began in 1884 when the position of veterinary inspector first was created to suppress disease in livestock and prevent epidemics (Chapter 157, Acts of 1884). Today, the Section works to control and eradicate livestock and poultry diseases that have a significant economic impact on producers or pose a threat to human health due to their transmissibility from animals to people (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-503).

The Section's work is carried out in five laboratories located in Centreville, College Park, Frederick, Oakland, and Salisbury.


Aquaculture, in Maryland, is an agricultural activity-the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants and animals. Aquaculture crops in the State include hybrid striped bass, tilapia, catfish, trout, crawfish, oysters, and soft-shell crabs.

The National Aquaculture Act of 1980 set forth the federal policy of encouraging development of an aquaculture industry. In 1988, the Department of Agriculture was designated to promote development of aquaculture and coordinate State efforts in this field (Chapter 534, Acts of 1988). In that year, the Office of Aquaculture Programs was established by the Department to coordinate the aquaculture programs of the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Natural Resources, and the University System of Maryland. In 1992, the Office was reorganized as Aquaculture Development and Seafood Marketing.

Seafood Marketing began in 1976 as an office within the Division of Economic Development under the Department of Economic and Community Development. In 1987, the Office of Seafood Marketing transferred to the Department of Agriculture as Seafood Marketing Services. It was renamed the Seafood Marketing Section in 1988, and simply Seafood Marketing in 1992. In July 1995, the functions of Seafood Marketing were assigned to Aquaculture Development and Seafood Marketing.

Aquaculture Development and Seafood Marketing promotes increased distribution and consumption of Maryland seafood and also seeks to reduce its cost and improve its quality and marketability. The agency's Maryland Seafood Directory lists processors, wholesalers, distributors, and seafood market suppliers of seafood and aquaculture products.


In 1992, the Grading Services and Egg Inspection Section merged with the Grain Laws Section to form Egg Inspection, Grading, and Grain. The Section oversees three separate programs of inspection, certification, and licensing.

The Grading Services Program conducts a voluntary certification program for producers and processors of numerous agricultural commodities, including poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and grain. The Program uses standards developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for quality, size, labeling, and packaging. Samples of agricultural commodities are evaluated for conformity with these standards. Graders supervise the official identification of commodities meeting the established criteria (Code Agricultural Article, secs. 10-501 through 10-909).

The Egg Inspection Program enforces the Maryland Egg Law. Inspections performed at the processor, wholesale, food service and retail levels ensure that eggs sold in Maryland comply with standards for quality, size, labeling and record-keeping. Wholesalers and packers of shell eggs must register annually with the Program. The Program coordinates enforcement of the Salmonella enteritidis regulations jointly adopted by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Egg Law controlling the movement of inedible and restricted eggs also is enforced by the Program. Restricted eggs are those not suitable for consumption due to cracks, blood spots, leaks, or other problems (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 4-301 through 4-312).

The Grain Laws Program licenses grain dealers, as defined by law. The practice dates at least to 1888 when licenses were granted to Baltimore grain brokers (Chapter 416, Acts of 1888). Now, grain dealers annually must meet financial and insurance requirements. Each year, the Section also publishes the Directory of Grain Dealers.


Marketing and Agricultural Development began as the Marketing Services Section. It was reorganized as Marketing in 1992 and received its current name in 1995. Programs include projects to improve quality and enhance presentation of agricultural commodities to the consumer; international marketing; market news and statistics services in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and a consumer marketing information program (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 10-101 through 10-204; 10-501 through 10-504; 10-601 through 10-606; 10-701 through 10-708; 10-801 through 10-807; 10-901 through 10-909).

Marketing and Agricultural Development compiles the following publications:

Under this unit are the Maryland Agricultural Fair Board, the Tobacco Authority, and the Maryland Winery and Grape Growers' Advisory Board.


The first Maryland law to regulate measures was enacted in 1641 (Chapter 2, Acts of 1641). At that time, the county sheriff was entrusted with the responsibility. The Weights and Measures Section continues to maintain and safeguard the State's primary standards as well as secondary standards and equipment for the enforcement of Maryland's Weights and Measures Law. The Section's Metrology Laboratory provides a wide variety of highly sophisticated measurements and calibrations in mass, volume, length, and thermometry.

The Section supervises the use and production of weighing and measuring devices, weights and measures, and packaged commodities offered for sale, sold, or in use in the State. This supervision extends to the methodology used to obtain accurate measurement and provides a means for value comparisons for consumers.

The Section licenses and tests personnel who determine butterfat content for dairies and milk cooperatives and personnel who calibrate farm milk tanks. It administers and enforces State laws for ensuring accuracy, equity, and the prevention of fraud in the sale and measurement of quantities, commodities, goods, or services (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 11-101 through 11-509).


The Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management originated in 1972 as the Division of Plant Industries. It became the Division of Plant Industries and Pest Management in 1980, and the Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management in 1984. The Office was reorganized in 1987 as the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation and, in 1990, resumed its earlier name.

The Office of Plant Industries and Pest Management supervises programs concerned with plants, plant pests, pest management, and pesticides. The Office also coordinates these programs with local, State and federal officials. In addition, the Office manages cooperative agreements with local, county, State and federal agencies.

Under the Office are six sections: Forest Pest Management; Mosquito Control; Pesticide Regulation; Plant Protection and Weed Management; State Chemist; and Turf and Seed.


The Forest Pest Management Section was formed from the Gypsy Moth Control Section in 1987. The Section protects forests by eradicating or controlling insect (particularly gypsy moth) infestations and disease.

The gypsy moth is the most destructive forest pest of the eastern United States. It harms trees in wooded residential areas, parks, and recreation areas. Consequently, the moth is the subject of a State and a national quarantine program. This pest has been present in Maryland since 1971. Despite an active suppression program, the gypsy moth continues threatening unprotected trees.

The Cooperative Gypsy Moth Suppression Program works to manage the moth. Coordinated by the Forest Pest Management Section, the Program is a joint effort by local and State agencies and the U.S. Forest Service. Branch offices of the Forest Pest Management Section are located in Bel Air, Cheltenham, Cumberland, Denton, and Frederick.


The Mosquito Control Section provides statewide mosquito control services through a cooperatively funded program. Branch offices are located in Riverdale, Salisbury, and Leonardtown. Environmentally compatible methods of pest management are used to control mosquitoes. In addition to implementing control measures, the Section monitors the environmental impact of the program, develops new control methods, and conducts epidemiological investigations of mosquito-borne diseases (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-401 through 5-405).


Administration of the Pesticide Applicators Law began in 1973 under the Division of Entomology. By 1975, the work continued under the Pest Management Section. A separate Pesticide Applicators Law Section was formed in 1980 and became the Pesticide Regulation Section in 1987.

The Section regulates the use of pesticides in Maryland. It licenses businesses engaged in commercial application of pesticides; trains and certifies commercial and private pesticide applicators; and enforces the Pesticide Applicators Law and Regulations. The Section also provides technical advice on the use of pesticides.

The Chief is the State's authority on matters relating to pesticide use and application (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-201 through 5-211).


The Plant Protection and Weed Management Section was formed in June 1997, when the Plant Protection Section merged with the Weed Control Section.

The Plant Protection and Weed Management Section administers programs for nursery inspection, plant protection and quarantine, integrated pest management, and nuisance bird control. The Section also oversees programs for certified plant production, inspection and registration of honey bee colonies, and implementation of the Interstate Pest Control Compact.

The Section serves as the State's authority on plant pests and agricultural quarantines and as liaison for the Department with other State and federal regulatory agencies (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-301 through 5-313, 5-501 through 5-507, 5-701 through 5-716, 5-801 through 5-805).

The Section administers the Maryland Noxious Weed Law. This law requires landowners or those who possess and manage land infested with Johnsongrass, shattercane, or thistles to eradicate or control these noxious weeds by practices prescribed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The noxious weed control program helps individuals manage noxious weeds through their own efforts and through a cooperative agreement between the State and participating counties. The Department encourages individuals to file a Noxious Weed Control Agreement, outlining methods and procedures for controlling noxious weeds on their land. Regulatory action may be taken against those who fail to control noxious weeds. The Section also investigates complaints of multiflora rose-infested land used for agricultural production.

The Secretary of Agriculture has authority to declare other weeds noxious and place them under a control program. The Section Supervisor serves as the State's authority on weed control matters (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 9-401 through 9-405, 9-701 through 9-705).


The office of State Agricultural Chemist was created in 1847 to help farmers rejuvenate worn-out tobacco land (Chapter 249, Acts of 1847). The Chemist analyzed soil throughout the State as well as marl and other mineral or vegetable deposits which might be applied as fertilizers, and lectured and publicized his findings. During the guano boom of the 1840s and 1850s, a Guano Inspector also analyzed all guano imported through Baltimore to ensure that farmers got that for which they paid. Modern equivalents of such duties are carried out by the State Chemist Section.

The State Chemist Section began under the Office of Animal Health and Consumer Services and moved in 1987 to the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation (now Plant Industries and Pest Management). The Section samples and chemically tests and analyzes commercial fertilizers, feeds, pesticides, soil conditioners, and liming materials sold in the State. The Section registers and examines the labels of these products as well. It determines if products conform to standards established under Maryland laws governing quality, contents, and labeling. These measures protect the consumer and the dealer from unscrupulous or careless manufacturers.

The Section cooperates with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the inspection of feed manufacturing facilities that produce medicated feeds. To implement the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Section also works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Additionally, Section chemists analyze meat and toxicology samples for the Office of Food Safety and Consumer Services; test fruits, vegetables, commercial feeds, and soils for chemical residues; and make other determinations as required by the Department (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 5-101 through 5-114, 6-101 through 6-117, 6-201 through 6-220, 6-301 through 6-310).


As early as 1888, the General Assembly enacted legislation to protect farmers from unscrupulous seed salesmen making fraudulent claims. Today, the Turf and Seed Section works to assure the availability of sufficient quantities of certified turf and seed. It directs and conducts certification programs by which turf and seed are produced to meet standards of purity, variety, germination, and other quality factors. From the evidence of field inspections or laboratory analysis, the Section rejects seed or sod not meeting certification standards.

The Section also regulates the labeling of seed and sod at the time of marketing to help consumers determine what to purchase. A State testing laboratory is operated for both service and regulatory testing to assure compliance with label claims. The regulatory phase involves inspection, testing, reporting results, and corrective actions for each turf and seed lot found not to comply with provisions of the Turf Grass Law or the Seed Law (Code Agriculture Article, secs. 9-101 through 9-110, 9-201 through 9-213).


The Office of Resource Conservation began in 1985 as the Office of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation. In 1987, it was restructured as the Office of Plant Industries and Resource Conservation and received its current name in 1989.

The Office works to control soil erosion and agricultural nonpoint source water pollution through agricultural soil conservation and water quality programs. The Office coordinates its efforts with other Department programs and with county, State and federal agencies. This includes managing interagency cooperative agreements. For Chesapeake Bay Agricultural Programs, the Office serves as agency liaison and facilitates State and local agricultural involvement in tributary strategies.

The Office consists of three sections: Program Planning and Development; Resource Conservation Grants; and Resource Conservation Operations.


Program Planning and Development supports the work of the State Soil Conservation Committee and the Office of Resource Conservation by planning, developing, and coordinating policy, programs, and public information. The soil and water conservation work of the Office is coordinated with soil conservation districts, and agencies and organizations with related programs.

Under the Agricultural Water Management Program, Program Planning and Development helps public drainage associations maintain agricultural drainage projects through a cost-share maintenance program and interagency review of plans for construction, reconstruction, operation and maintenance. Program Planning and Development also coordinates the Nutrient Management Program, which helps individual farmers plan nutrient management of animal waste, sludge, and commercial fertilizers. The Program trains, certifies and licenses persons who provide this service.


Resource Conservation Grants started in 1989 as the Conservation Grants Section. In 1992, the Section was renamed Resource Protection Incentives, and in 1994 received its present name. This office administers the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program (MACS) and the State Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Established in 1983, the Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share Program reduces water pollution caused by nutrient and sediment erosion, animal wastes, or agricultural chemicals. The Program provides cost-share grants to individuals for installing best management practices on agricultural land.

The State Conservation Reserve Program provides annual payments to landowners or operators for certain acreage taken out of agricultural production and planted in vegetative cover for a ten-year period. The Program began in 1988 as an incentive for enrolling in a similar federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Resource Conservation Operations originated in 1989 as an outgrowth of the Soil Conservation Administration. It was reorganized as Resource Management Services in 1992. In 1994, it resumed its earlier name.

Resource Conservation Operations administers State resources that support soil and water conservation programs on agricultural land. This section guides and assists twenty-four soil conservation districts and gives financial, administrative and technical support for conservation programs. Resource Conservation Operations also provides technical assistance to farmers and landowners on best management practices to control soil erosion and agricultural nonpoint source pollution.

Maryland Executive Departments

Maryland Manual On-Line

 Maryland Manual On-Line, 1998

July 10, 1998   
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