A central mission of the Department of Agriculture was to disseminate information about the best farming tools and techniques to farmers throughout the country. To work most efficiently, farmers needed to know, for example, what birds and insects are a help on the farm, and which might damage or destroy their crops. The illustrations that accompanied reports on destructive insects or pest-killing birds helped farmers identify friends and foes and often emphasized details¬†¬†— like the owl holding the dead rabbit — that reinforced the department’s message about the plant or animal.