The Idaho Legislature created the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) in 1919 to assist and regulate the state's fast-growing agricultural industry. The primary purposes for establishment were to protect Idaho's crops and livestock from the introduction and spread of pests and transmittable diseases, to help provide the industry with a system for the orderly marketing of agricultural commodities, and to protect consumers from contaminated products or fraudulent marketing practices. These purposes still drive the department today.
The department derives its statutory authority from multiple sections of the Idaho Code. Section 22-101 creates the Department of Agriculture and the position of director. Section 22-102 provides that the director “shall organize the department into such divisions and other administrative sub-units as may be necessary in order to efficiently administer the department,” and section 22-103 lists specific directorial duties. Additional statutory duties and authorities are found in the following provisions of the Idaho Code:
- Title 25 (Animals)
- Title 37. Chapters 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 25 and 26 (Dairies)
- Title 49, Chapter 29, (REDIFiT Program)
- Title 57, Chapter 14 (Rural Rehabilitation Funds)
- Title 69, Chapters 2 and 5 (Bonded Warehouses and Commodity Dealers)
- Title 71 (Weights and Measures)
In addition to the six divisions which primarily make up the ISDA, four commodity commissions - the Idaho Honey Advertising Commission, Idaho Hop Commission, Idaho Mint Commission and Idaho Sheep Commission - are also technically housed within the ISDA, although each entity maintains its autonomy. The department works closely with all other agriculture commodity commissions. The Idaho Food Quality Assurance Laboratory was assigned by the Idaho Legislature to the Department of Agriculture on July 1, 2005, and the department works cooperatively with the Idaho Food Quality Assurance Institute to administrator the day-to-day operations of the laboratory.
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has a current budget of approximately $35 million. For FY2011, the state general fund accounts for 18.8 percent of the budget. The remainder of the department’s funding comes from various types of fees assessed directly to the segment of industry being regulated or receiving services. Federal sources also assist the department with the funding of certain programs. The department is currently staffed with approximately 327 full-time employees. The Bureau of Shipping Point Inspection and other units of the department also hire hundreds of seasonal employees each year.