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Rhode Island. Milk Control Board (1934-1980) | State Archives Catalog

Name: Rhode Island. Milk Control Board (1934-1980)

Historical Note:

The Rhode Island Milk Control Board was established per 1934 January Session Public Law Chapter 2089 entitled “An Act Creating A Board Of Milk Control And Defining Its Powers And Duties.”  The Board was established to address the unregulated (“unfair, destructive and uneconomic”) trade practices of the milk industry and to regulate the production, sale and distribution of milk and cream in the state.  Additionally the board was charged with “public supervision and control in accord with proper standards of production, transportation, processing, storage, distribution and sale of milk and cream...” to alleviate any “immediate and impending danger to the public health and welfare…”

The Milk Control Board consisted of the director of state public health commission (ex-officio), the commissioner of agriculture (ex-officio), a milk producer, a milk distributor, and a milk consumer all appointed by the Governor.  January Session, 1939 Chapter 660 (also known as “the Administrative Act of 1939”) transferred certain duties of the board, such as the inspection of milk, to the jurisdiction of the Department of Health (formerly the Commission of Public Health).  The functions of inspection of cattle, milk herds, and the economic control of milk came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Conservation (formerly the Commission of Agriculture).  1939 Chapter 674 further established the board as an independent unit of the Department of Agriculture and Conservation and not subject to the jurisdiction of the director of that department.  Chapter 674 also abolishes the board as defined in 1936 Chapter 2310 (“An Act Continuing A Board Of Milk Control And Defining Its Powers And Duties”) and essentially redefines the board’s functions and outlines the membership of the board with the same membership as the previous board.  The appointments of the governor now require the advice and consent of the senate.

An act in amendment of Chapter 660 further defines the functions of the board as the establishment of minimum wholesale and resale prices of milk within the state (1939 Chapter 731).  These minimum prices were to be established after investigations and public hearings.  Chapter 80 of the Public Acts of 1962 established a new milk sanitation code and further redefined the responsibilities of the Departments of Health and Agriculture and Conservation.  By 1979-1980, the functions of the Milk Sanitation Board were combined with the functions of the Division of Food Protection in the Department of Health.

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