WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees began Monday, June 15.
“Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice. Their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It is important for county committees to reflect America's diversity, so I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers, including beginning farmers, to get involved in this year's elections. We’ve seen an increase in the number of nominations for qualified candidates, especially among women and minorities, and I hope that trend continues.”
To be eligible to serve on a FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency-administered program, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where they are nominated.
Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. Nomination forms for the 2015 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 3.
FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 9. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 7. Newly elected committee members and alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2016.
While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve 3-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of 3 to 11 members who are elected by eligible producers.