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U.S. Government

When New Mexico first began licensing motor vehicles in 1912 there were no exceptions for either state- or federally-owned vehicles. These were issued regular “civilian” license plates at no charge, but the agencies which owned the vehicles also had the option of providing their own plates. In 1931 the state introduced a purpose-made tag called the U.S. Official plate for use by federal vehicles. As time went by, more and more individual federal agencies began providing their own plates, prompting the federal government in 1942 to create a standardized red, white and blue “federal shield” plate. The agencies using these new plates were identified by the serial number’s alpha prefix. By far the most common of these in New Mexico were “A” for Department of Agriculture and “I” for Department of the Interior. For other federal government plates used in New Mexico, see Civilian Conservation Corps and Boat.
The U.S. Soil Erosion Service existed only from September 1933 to April 1935, at which time it was renamed as the U.S. Soil Conservation Service.  This plate was found in the Estancia Valley of New Mexico near Willard, an area renowned for dryland farming of pinto beans until the destructive drought years of the 1930s.
Courtesy Jim Fox.
            Department of Agriculture Department of the Interior           
Photo credits: Department of Agriculture plate courtesy of Greg Gibson and Jim Fox.  Department of the Interior by Bill Johnston.

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