The Agriculture Department is under the control of the Agricultural Commissioner, who is appointed under state statute and is responsible for the administration and enforcement of all applicable laws and regulations related to environmental and consumer protection.
The Agricultural Commissioner is responsible for the promotion and protection of the agricultural industry and for the protection of public health, safety, and welfare. These mandates are implemented through environmental protection programs which include pest exclusion, pest detection, pest eradication, and pesticide use enforcement; consumer protection programs which include nursery and seed inspections, fruit and vegetable standardization, and shell egg quality control; and other programs such as apiary certification, fruit and vegetable certification, and agricultural statistics.
The pest exclusion program prevents the introduction of pests. Shipments of plant material entering the county by common carrier are inspected. Certificates required for the movement of plant material are issued upon request. The pest detection program is an organized search for any uncommon plant disease, insect, animal, nematode, or weed that may be detrimental to agriculture, ornamental plantings, or native flora. Various insect detection traps are deployed and maintained throughout the county. The purpose of the pesticide use enforcement program is to regulate agricultural and structural pest control chemical usage to achieve acceptable levels of control with the least possible harm to non-target organisms and to assure the safest possible conditions to the applicator, public, and the environment.
Consumer protection programs are intended to assure that nursery stock, produce, and eggs meet all regulatory standards and are correctly advertised. Certificates are issued upon request. The Agricultural Commissioner’s Office may also be responsible for various biological and chemical weed control programs, animal damage control programs, or environmental health programs, and is typically involved with land use planning issues. Within most counties, the Agricultural Commissioner is also responsible for weights and measures enforcement. This program goal is to ensure equity and fair competition in the marketplace through a measurement standards program designed to preserve and maintain the standards of measurement essential in providing a basis of value comparison. In some counties, the Agricultural Commissioner is the air pollution control officer or animal control director.