The USDA can best be summarized by reviewing their mission statement, “We provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management". As early as 1839 Congress established the Agriculture Division of the Patent Office. Although a somewhat strange combination, the then Commissioner of Patents, Henry Ellsworth had long been a avid collector of various seeds and was well known for this in the Washington, D.C. area. In the 19th century approximately 58% of the population was involved in farming. The need for a separate department which concentrated on seed propagation and farming techniques was called for. In 1862, under President Abraham Lincoln the Agriculture Department was formed. Although not a cabinet level department, for the first time there was an autonomous department within the federal government that concentrated solely on agriculture matters (“About USDA”, 2006, screen 1). It was not until 1889 that the USDA became a cabinet level department. Under President Grover Cleveland, the House and Senate passed the bill allowing him to sign it into law. On February 9, 1889, the USDA, in its current structure, was born. Appendix A contains the current organizational chart of the USDA.
Although the demographics of the United States is much different today than it was when the Agriculture Department was first conceived, the USDA has evolved with the emerging technology and