Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and predecessors: Statistics Divisions: Parish Summaries of Agricultural Returns
Summaries of annual returns from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and its predecessors on livestock and acreage in England and Wales given by proprietors on a voluntary basis. The summaries in this series begin in 1866, but those for 1868, 1871 and 1872 have not survived. Figures for the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Isles of Scilly have been included, where available. The original returns have been destroyed.
For the most part the series is arranged alphabetically by county within each year. This generally follows piece number order. From 1982 Avon, Humberside and the Welsh counties are not listed in alphabetical order. This is due to these counties having been listed according their respective agricultural census return numbers, which vary slightly from strict alphabetical order.
Board of Trade, 1786-1970
Privy Council, Committee of Council for Agriculture, 1884-1889
Although some information about acreages was collected from farmers and graziers in Great Britain with the decennial population censuses from 1851 to 1881, the first census of livestock taken from all owners of livestock was not until March 1866, followed in June 1866 by a census of crops. Statistics of labour employed on farms were first collected in 1908; again in 1915; and annually from 1920 onwards.
Excise officers (reporting to the Board of Trade up to 1889, and thereafter to the Board of Agriculture set up under an Act of 1889) collected the agricultural returns up to 1918. In 1919 the new Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries set up a network of some 300 crop reporters who were local fee-paid agents of the ministry, each being responsible for the distribution and collection of the returns within a defined group of parishes. From 1949 to 1956 the returns were collected by the ministry's County Advisory Officers. From September 1956 the completed forms have been returned by farmers direct to the Agricultural Census Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at Guildford.
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