Early agricultural interests in Maryland were represented by the Board of Agriculture under auspices of the University of Maryland. In 1972, the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation establishing the Maryland Department of Agriculture on the basis of agriculture's growing importance and impact to the economy of the state. A year later, the Maryland Department of Agriculture became a full-fledged part of state operations.
Many activities of the MDA are regulatory in nature, others are assigned to a category of public service and some are educational or promotional in scope. All are intended to provide the maximum protection possible for the consumer as well as promote the economic well-being of farmers, food and fiber processors and businesses engaged in agricultural related operations.
Maryland's top livestock products are broilers. Over one third of the state's total agricultural production is broilers. Other valuable livestock are dairy products and, to a lesser extent, cattle, calves and chicken eggs. Greenhouse and nursery products are Marylands most valuable crop products, followed by corn and soybeans.