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Title: ARS Timeline...144 Years of Ag Research

Chronological history by decade from
the creation of USDA in 1862 until 2000

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History of Research at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service
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Blue=USDA research accomplishment


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drawing of palm trees

photo of hogs

Hogs under observation for cholera.


1860s 1870s
1880s 1890s
1900s 1910s
1920s 1930s
1940s 1950s
1960s 1970s
1980s 1990s




Work projects for farm youth organized; the name '4-H' adopted in 1913.

Lacey Act prohibited importation of injurious animals, birds, and fish.

Of gainfully employed persons, 38 percent were engaged in agriculture.

Mendel's work on heredity rediscovered.

Bureau of Plant Industry established.

Complement fixation test developed.

Began experiments with Egyptian long-staple cotton.

First plants methodically bred for disease resistance.

Reclamation Act passed.

Oily flavor in butter eliminated by pasteurization.

Dutch botanist, Hugo De Vries, announced his theory of mutation.

Pseudorabies of pigs–Aujeszky's disease–described and causative virus identified.

Existence and function of hormones discovered.

Sea Island, first wilt-resistant cotton released.

Demonstrated that a virus causes hog cholera and that recovering hogs are immune for life.(more)

Wright Brothers demonstrated the first airplane.

Date palm introduced to the U.S.(more)

Insect Pest Act prohibited importation or mailing of live, injurious insects. (more)

Livestock Quarantine Act passed.

Pure Food and Drug Act passed.(more)

Demonstrated that alkali soils could be reclaimed by flooding.(more)

Developed live-virus vaccine for hog cholera.(more)

28-hour law required humane care of livestock in interstate shipment.

Meat Inspection Act passed.

First caterpillar tractor powered by gasoline engine produced by Holt Company.

American and European foulbrood diseases of bees differentiated.

Branding ink for use in meat inspection developed.

Mediterranean fruit fly introduced to Hawaiian Islands.(more)

Founded the science of nematology in the U.S.

Yuma released; first U.S. variety of long-staple cotton, followed by Pima in 1910.

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Send comments or questions about this historical timeline to Sean Adams.