Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF): Library

Date: Late C18 to C21Extent: c. 20,000 items

This collection was donated to The Museum of English Rural Life in 2006 by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It is a substantial collection of official publications produced by the former Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and its predecessors from the late eighteenth century to June 2001 (when Defra was created from the former MAFF). While the collection is not a comprehensive archive of MAFF publications, it is probably the most complete collection of its kind. The collection includes publications on farming, food and rural issues, with a few exceptions it excludes material on topics such as fisheries and scientific research and development which are outside our scope.

About a third of the material consists of publications of the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS), an Agency within MAFF. It was originally set up as the National Agricultural Advisory Service after the Second World War, and generated a large volume of advisory literature, in the form of bulletins, leaflets, reference books, etc. aimed at farmers and growers.

Other material includes:

  • County reports/Board of Agriculture reports (18th – 19th centuries)
  • Agricultural Market reports
  • Water Research Centre reports
  • HM Inspector of Pollution reports
  • Soil surveys
  • News releases
  • Pesticide Registers and other publications/reports on pesticides
  • Marketing schemes
  • Miscellaneous MAFF/ADAS publications

Subjects covered by the collection include:

  • agricultural machinery
  • crops and livestock
  • dairy products
  • diseases of animals and plants
  • farm buildings and management
  • fertilisers and soils
  • food
  • fruit and vegetables
  • geographic case studies
  • pests and weeds
  • statistics

Publishing bodies include:

  • Board of Agriculture (1793–1822, when it was disbanded)
  • Board of Agriculture and Fisheries (1889–1919)
  • Ministry of Agriculture (1919–1955)
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1955–2001, when its responsibilities were absorbed by Defra)
  • Ministry of Food (1939–1955)

A small number of the publications have been catalogued on the online catalogue.

A handlist of the 212 items from the MAFF Bulletins series we hold is available.

Please contact us to arrange access to the rest of the collection. In addition to this collection, a significant number of MAFF publications are held throughout the MERL Library in their appropriate subject areas.

See also the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food archive collection.

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