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Department of Agriculture Organic Act

(The Department of Agriculture was established by the Act of May 15, 1862, ch. 72, 12 Stat. 387. This Act was the source of sections 520, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 526, 528, and 529 of the Revised Statutes approved June 20, 1874, relating to the establishment and functions of the Department of Agriculture.)

SEC. 520.(1) There shall be at the seat of government a Department of Agriculture, the general design and duties of which shall be to acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, rural development,(2) aquaculture, and human nutrition(3) in the most general and comprehensive sense of those terms and to procure, propagate, and distribute among the people new and valuable seeds and plants(4)

SEC. 521.(5) (Repealed)

SEC. 522.(6) (Repealed)

SEC. 523.(7) The Secretary(8) of Agriculture shall appoint a chief clerk.

SEC. 524.(9) (Repealed)

SEC. 525.(10) The Secretary(11) of Agriculture shall have charge, in the building and premises appropriated to the Department, of the library, furniture, fixtures, records, and other property appertaining to it, or hereafter acquired for use in its business.

SEC. 526.(12) (a) The Secretary(13) of Agriculture shall procure and preserve all information concerning agriculture, rural development, aquaculture, and human nutrition(14) which he can obtain by means of books and correspondence, and by practical and scientific experiments, accurate records of which experiments shall be kept in his office, by the collection of statistics, and by any other appropriate means within his power; he shall collect new and valuable seeds and plants; shall test, by cultivation, the value of such of them as may require such tests; shall propagate such as may be worthy of propagation; and shall distribute them among agriculturists; and he shall advise the President, other members of his cabinet, and the Congress on policies and programs designed to improve the quality of life for people living in the rural and non-metropolitan regions of the Nation; and

(b)(15) The Secretary is authorized to initiate or expand research and development efforts related to solution of problems of rural water supply, rural sewage and solid waste management, rural housing, rural industrialization, and technology appropriate to small- and moderate-sized family farming operations, and any other problem that the Secretary may determine has an effect upon the economic development or the quality of life in rural areas.

SEC. 527.(16) That purchase and distribution of vegetable, field, and flower seeds, plants, shrubs, vines, bulbs and cuttings shall be of the freshest and best obtainable varieties and adapted to general cultivation.

SEC. 528.(17) The Secretary(18) of Agriculture shall annually make a general report in writing of his acts to the President in which he may recommend the publication of papers forming parts of or accompanying his report.(19) He shall also make special reports on particular subjects whenever required to do so by the President or either House of Congress, or when he shall think the subject in his charge requires it.

SEC. 529.(20)(Repealed)


(1) 7 U.S.C. 2201.

(2) Amended by the Act of August 30, 1972, Public Law 92-419, sec. 603, 86 Stat. 675, to include "rural development".

(3) Amended by the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977, Public Law 95-113, sec. 1502(a), 91 Stat. 1021, 7 U.S.C. 2201, to include "aquaculture and human nutrition".

(4) Transfers of functions were accomplished by the following: Public Law 86-509, June 11, 1960, 74 Stat. 205, which enacted provisions of Reorganization Plan Numbered 1 of 1959, provided: "That, except as otherwise provided in section 2 hereof, the following functions are hereby transferred to the Secretary of Agriculture:

"(a) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of March 20, 1922, 42 Stat. 465, as amended (16 U.S.C. 485, 486), with respect to exchanges of non-Federal lands for national forest lands or timber.

"(b) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of February 2, 1922 (42 Stat. 362), with respect to exchanges of lands in private ownership within or within six miles of the Deschutes National Forest for national forest lands, or for timber from any national forest, in the State of Oregon.

"(c) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of June 7, 1924 (43 Stat. 643), except section 2 thereof, with respect to exchanges of privately owned lands for national forest timber in New Mexico.

"(d) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of January 12, 1925 (43 Stat. 739), except section 2 thereof, with respect to exchanges of privately owned lands for national forest timber in New Mexico.

"(e) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of April 21, 1926 (44 Stat. 303), except section 2 thereof, with respect to exchanges of privately owned lands for national forest lands or timber in New Mexico and Arizona.

"(f) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under section 2 of the Act of May 26, 1926 (44 Stat. 655; 16 U.S.C. 38), with respect to exchanges of lands held in private or State ownership for national forest lands or timber in Montana.

"(g) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of June 15, 1926 (44 Stat. 746), with respect to exchanges of State lands for national forest lands in New Mexico.

"(h) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under the Act of December 7, 1942 (56 Stat. 1042), with respect to exchange transactions in which lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture are exchanged for State lands in Minnesota which are to be under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture after their acquisition by the United States.

"(i) The function of the Secretary of the Interior (originally vested in the Commissioner of the General Land Office) under section 6 of the Act of April 28, 1930 (46 Stat. 257; 43 U.S.C. 872), with respect to execution of quitclaim deeds for lands conveyed to the United States in connection with exchange transactions involving lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture.

"(j) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under section 2(b) of the Joint Resolution of August 8, 1947 (61 Stat. 921), with respect to appraisals and sales of certain lands within the Tongass National Forest.

"(k) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under section 10 of the Act of March 1, 1911 (36 Stat. 962; 16 U.S.C. 519), with respect to sales of small tracts of acquired national forest lands found chiefly valuable for agriculture.

"(l) The functions of the Secretary of the Interior under section 402 of Reorganization Plan Numbered 3 of 1946 (60 Stat. 1099), section 3 of the Act of September 1, 1949 (63 Stat. 683; 30 U.S.C. 192c), the Act of June 30, 1950 (64 Stat. 311; 16 U.S.C. 508b), section 3 of the Act of June 28, 1952 (66 Stat. 285), or otherwise, with respect to the use and disposal from lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture of those mineral materials which the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to dispose of from other lands under his jurisdiction under the Act of July 31, 1947 (61 Stat. 681), as amended by the Act of July 23, 1955 (69 Stat. 367; 30 U.S.C. 601).

"Sec. 2. (a) In no case covered by subsections (a), (b), (e), (g), and (h) of section 1 hereof shall the exchange provide for the patenting of land by the United States without a reservation of minerals (1) unless the Secretary of Agriculture has obtained the advice of the Secretary of the Interior that the land is nonmineral in character, or (2) unless the Secretary of the Interior approves of the valuation and disposition of the minerals in the lands to be patented. A sale of land covered by subsection (j) of section 1 hereof shall be made by the Secretary of Agriculture without a reservation of minerals only after consultation with, and the approval of, the Secretary of the Interior as to the valuation and disposition of the minerals. No lands of the United States shall be exchanged in any case covered by subsection (f) of section 1 hereof unless the Secretary of Agriculture has obtained the advice of the Secretary of the Interior that such lands are nonmineral in character.

"(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to determine or adjudicate the validity or invalidity of any mining claim or part thereof.

"(c) Nothing in subsection (l) of section 1 hereof shall be construed to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to dispose of coal, phosphate, sodium, potassium, oil, oil shale, gas, or sulfur, or to dispose of any minerals which would be subject to disposal under the mining laws if said laws were applicable to the lands in which the minerals are situated.

"(d) Upon approval by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to the provisions of this Act of any exchange or sale, respectively, of national forest lands under the provisions of law referred to in subsections (a), (b), (e), (f), (g), and (j) of section 1, hereof, the Secretary of the Interior, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture, shall issue the patent therefor.

"(e) All conveyances under the Act referred to in subsection (h) of section 1 hereof of national forest lands reserved from the public domain shall, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture, be made by the Secretary of the Interior.".

Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953 effective June 4, 1953, 18 F.R. 3219, 67 Stat. 633, provided for the Department of Agriculture, as follows:

"SECTION 1. Transfer of functions to the Secretary. (a) Subject to the exceptions specified in subsection (b) of this section, there are hereby transferred to the Secretary of Agriculture all functions not now vested in him of all other officers, and of all agencies and employees, of the Department of Agriculture.

"(b) This section shall not apply to the functions vested by the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.) [see §§ 551 et seq., 701 et seq., 3105, 3344, 5362, 7521 of this title] in hearing examiners employed by the Department of Agriculture nor to the functions of (1) corporations of the Department of Agriculture, (2) the boards of directors and officers of such corporations, (3) the Advisory Board of the Commodity Credit Corporation, or (4) the Farm Credit Administration or any agency, officer, or entity of, under, or subject to the supervision of the said Administration.

"SEC. 2. Assistant Secretaries of Agriculture. Two additional Assistant Secretaries of Agriculture shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. Each such assistant secretary shall perform such functions as the Secretary of Agriculture shall, from time to time, prescribe and each shall receive compensation at the rate prescribed by law for Assistant Secretaries of executive departments.

"SEC. 3. Administrative Assistant Secretary. An Administrative Assistant Secretary of Agriculture shall be appointed, with the approval of the President, by the Secretary of Agriculture under the classified civil service, and shall perform such functions as the Secretary of Agriculture shall, from time to time, prescribe. The provisions of the item numbered (1) of the third proviso under the heading "General Provisions" appearing in Chapter XI of the Third Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1952, approved June 5, 1952, 66 Stat. 121, are hereby made applicable to the position of Administrative Assistant Secretary of Agriculture. [Deleted by Public Law 97- 325, section 8, 96 Stat. 1606, which also provided for the appointment of an additional Assistant Secretary of Agriculture by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and for the total of such Assistant Secretaries to be 7.]

"SEC. 4. Delegation of functions. (a) The Secretary of Agriculture may from time to time make such provisions as he shall deem appropriate authorizing the performance by any other officer, or by any agency or employee, of the Department of Agriculture of any function of the Secretary, including any function transferred to the Secretary by the provisions of this reorganization plan.

"(b) To the extent that the carrying out of subsection (a) of this section involves the assignment of major functions or major groups of functions to major constituent organizational units of the Department of Agriculture, now or hereafter existing, or to the heads or other officers thereof, and to the extent deemed practicable by the Secretary, he shall give appropriate advance public notice of delegations of functions proposed to be made by him and shall afford appropriate opportunity for interested persons and groups to place before the Department of Agriculture their views with respect to such proposed delegations.

"(c) In carrying out subsection (a) of this section the Secretary shall seek to simplify and make efficient the operation of the Department of Agriculture, to place the administration of farm programs close to the state and local levels, and to adapt the administration of the programs of the Department to regional, State, and local conditions.

"SEC. 5. Incidental transfers. The Secretary of Agriculture may from time to time effect such transfer07/16/2007tment of Agriculture of any of the records, property, and personnel affected by this reorganiza tion plan and such transfers of unexpended balances (available or to be made available for use in connection with any affected function or agency) of appropriations, allocations, and other funds of such Department, as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this reorganization plan; but such unexpended balances so transferred shall be used only for the purposes for which such appropriation was originally made.".

(5) Sections 521 and 522 dealing with establishment of the office of the commissioner of agriculture and clerks and employees, respectively, were repealed by the Act of March 3, 1933, ch. 202, 47 Stat. 1428.

(6) Sections 521 and 522 dealing with establishment of the office of the commissioner of agriculture and clerks and employees, respectively, were repealed by the Act of March 3, 1933, ch. 202, 47 Stat. 1428.

(7) 7 U.S.C. 2215. R.S. sec. 523 was derived from the Act of May 15, 1862, ch. 72, sec. 4, 12 Stat. 388.

(8) Original reference was to the "Commissioner of Agriculture." The Act of July 14, 1890, ch. 707, 26 Stat. 288, provided that the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized and directed to perform all the duties named in all Acts of Congress in force February 8, 1889, to be performed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

(9) Repealed by the Act of June 6, 1972, Public Law 92-310, 86 Stat. 205.

(10) 7 U.S.C. 2206. R.S. sec. 525 was derived from the Act of May 15, 1862, ch. 72, sec. 3, 12 Stat. 387, and Res. Dec. 15, 1868, No. 1, 15 Stat. 343.

(11) Original reference was to the "Commissioner of Agriculture." The Act of July 14, 1890, ch. 707, 26 Stat. 288, provided that the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized and directed to perform all the duties named in all Acts of Congress in force February 8, 1889, to be performed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

(12) 7 U.S.C. 2204. Amended by the Rural Development Act of 1972, Public Law 92-419, section 603(b), 86 Stat. 675, which designated existing provisions as subsection (a), provided for information concerning rural development, prescribed advisory functions of the Secretary, and added subsection (b).

(13) Original reference was to the "Commissioner of Agriculture." The Act of July 14, 1890, ch. 707, 26 Stat. 288, provided that the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized and directed to perform all the duties named in all Acts of Congress in force February 8, 1889, to be performed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

(14) Amended by the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977, Public Law 95-113, sec. 1502(a), 91 Stat. 1021, 7 U.S.C. 2201, to include "aquaculture and human nutrition".

(15) Amended in its entirety by the Rural Development Policy Act of 1980, Public Law 96-355, section 5, 94 Stat. 1174.

(16) 7 U.S.C. 415. Section 527 was amended in its entirety by the Act of April 25, 1896, ch. 140, 29 Stat. 106. The Act substituted this section for one which read: "The purchase and distribution of seeds by the Department of Agriculture shall be confined to such seeds as are rare and uncommon to the country, or such as can be made more profitable by frequent changes from one part of our own country to another; and the purchase or propagation and distribution of trees, plants, shrubs, vines, and cuttings, shall be confined to such as are adapted to general cultivation and to promote the general interests of horticulture and agriculture throughout the United States.".

(17) 7 U.S.C. 2207. R.S. sec 528 was derived from the Act of May 15, 1862, ch. 72, sec. 3, 12 Stat. 387.

(18) Original reference was to the "Commissioner of Agriculture." The Act of July 14, 1890, ch. 707, 26 Stat. 288, provided that the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized and directed to perform all the duties named in all Acts of Congress in force February 8, 1889, to be performed by the Commissioner of Agriculture.

(19) This section was amended and section 529 was deleted to reflect that: (1) the Act of May 29, 1928, ch. 901, section 1, 45 Stat. 993, discontinued the report to Congress of the Secretary's acts and the account of all moneys received and expended by him and the report in detail to the Congress of all moneys expended by him or under his direction, and repealed sections 528 and 529 "to the extent of such requirement"; and (2) the Act of August 30, 1954, ch. 1076, section 1, 68 Stat. 966, discontinued the annual report to the President accounting for all moneys received and expended by him and repealed section 528 "to the extent of such requirement".

(20) This section was amended and section 529 was deleted to reflect that: (1) the Act of May 29, 1928, ch. 901, section 1, 45 Stat. 993, discontinued the report to Congress of the Secretary's acts and the account of all moneys received and expended by him and the report in detail to the Congress of all moneys expended by him or under his direction, and repealed sections 528 and 529 "to the extent of such requirement"; and (2) the Act of August 30, 1954, ch. 1076, section 1, 68 Stat. 966, discontinued the annual report to the President accounting for all moneys received and expended by him and repealed section 528 "to the extent of such requirement".