Agricultural pursuits were fundamental to the establishment and development of South Australia from 1836. However, a Department of Agriculture as an entity was not established until June 1902: the various sub-departments that had been formed from time to time under a range of Ministers (but essentially the Commissioner of Crown Lands) were gradually brought under one organisation and Minister.
The first Minister of Agriculture per se was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Education on 3 June 1875. This ministerial title lapsed soon after but was resumed until 26 October 1877 when it lapsed for more than 14 years.
From 6 January 1892 until October 1992 the portfolio was maintained except for two periods (for 4 months in 1892 and for almost 4 years from mid 1901 to March 1905). The Minister of Agriculture became a stand-alone position from 26 July 1905, although the ministerial title subsequently indicated additional responsibilities on at least two occasions (incorporating ‘and Industry’ [1910-1912] and then ‘and Irrigation’ [1912-1915]. At other times the Minister of Agriculture also held other portfolios and departments, such as Chemistry, Forests or Fisheries, independently.
Despite the changes in the ministerial titles and departmental responsibilities, the Department of Agriculture existed as an entity from 1902 until it ceased as a government agency under that name on 8 October 1992. For the period from 1975 to 1979 the department was the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. A series of amalgamations beginning in 1992 saw the transition of the department to the Department of Primary Industries South Australia (PISA) and from 1997 to the Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA).
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