The San Joaquin Valley’s first compressed bale of cotton happened in Fresno County. Photo courtesy Pop Laval Foundation.
The Fresno County Department of Agriculture stems from statutes enacted in 1881, authorizing County Boards of Horticultural Commissioners. During California’s rapid expansion at the end of the nineteenth century, settlers brought not only their families but also trees and vines for planting, some of which were infested with insects and disease pests. This created so many problems for the state’s farmers that in 1881, the California Legislature provided counties with authority to establish local Boards of Horticultural Commissioners to protect the state’s burgeoning tree and vine industries from these new pests.
The three-person County Boards of Horticultural Commissioners were fused into a single office of County Horticultural Commissioner in 1909. On May 22, 1929, the name County Horticultural Commissioner was changed to County Agricultural Commissioner, which is the title presently used in state law. Since 1929 when the name was changed to Agricultural Commissioner, there have been nine Agricultural Commissioners who have served Fresno County.
The functions of the office of the County Agricultural Commissioner were described by someone in 1940 as that of the office of the agricultural sheriff, having duties to protect plants from injury by insects, disease, etc. Presently, the Agricultural Commissioner, under the direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, conducts regulatory and service functions required by state and federal laws and by local measures and ordinances authorized by the County Board of Supervisors.
California consumers have received protection from the use of false weights and measures since 1915 when the state’s legislature established that each county shall have a Sealer of Weights and Measures. In 1970 the functions of the County Sealer of Weights and Measures were combined with those of the County Agricultural Commissioner.
Today the primary purpose of this office is to promote safe agriculture and a fair marketplace through equal enforcement of laws and regulations for the protection of our community and environment. To achieve this purpose, the County Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights and Measures provides regulatory services through numerous programs that are coordinated with the United States Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).
Commissioners 1929 to Present
- 1929 - 1947 Fred Roullard (Served as Horticultural Commissioner from 1914 - 1929)
- 1947 - 1960 John W. Dixon
- 1960 - 1966 Lawrence McCorkindale
- 1966 - 1978 Thomas E. Corn
- 1978 - 1999 Cosmo C. Insalaco
- 1999 - 2008 Jerry Prieto, Jr.
- 2008 - 2013 Carol N. Hafner
- 2013 - 2019 Les Wright
- 2019 - Present Melissa Cregan