Secretary of Agriculture

For many years, the United States was largely a country of farmers. In 1862, our government created the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was founded by President Lincoln. Its purpose was to help farmers find new seeds and methods of farming. The USDA was not a part of the president's cabinet when it was founded. Most food was grown locally at this time. Food was not widely moved around the country.

Changes in technology called for changes in food safety. More railroad lines were built. Refrigerated railroad cars and electricity allowed meat-packing to be done year-round. This caused concern over animal diseases. Often times, animals that were brought in from other countries were diseased. There was not a system in place to stop the diseased animals from being sold as food. Individual states tried to regulate the meat coming into their state. This method was inconsistent. Livestock owners and veterinarians called for national standards.

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