Edward M. Shulman, 70, retired general counsel of the Department of Agriculture, died Wednesday at the Washington Hospital Center after a long illness.

With the department since 1934, he had been general counsel from 1968 until his retirement in 1973.

Born in Atlanta, Mr. Shulman received a law degree from Ohio State University in 1930. He practiced law in Dayton before joining the Agriculture Department as an associate solicitor in the office of the solicitor.

He subsequently became deputy general counsel and was in charge of legal work for the Commodity Credit Corporation. Federal Crop Insurance, the school lunch program, agraicultural conservation, farm marketing quotas and price supports.

Mr. Shulman helped develop supports for agricultural prices, programs to encourage the export of surplus commodities and the means of bartering U.S. crops for strategic minerals. He handled the legal aspects of purchasing agricultural commodities abroad in the 1940s and administered post-World War II aid programs.

He served as a member of the administrative board of the Agriculture Department's Graduate School from 1968 to 1973. He earned the department's Superior Service Award and Distinguished Service Award.

Admitted to the Ohio and D.C. bars and to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Shulman was a member of the American Bar Association.

He is survived by his wife, Rosalind Shulman, of the home in Washington; a son, Richard of Dix Hills, Long Island: a brother, Louis T. of Dayton and two grandchildren.