The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nomination period for farmers and ranchers to serve on local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees will run through August 1. The nomination process got underway June 15.
The process gives farmers and ranchers a voice in how the agency functions, says FSA Administrator Val Dolcini.
“Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice. Their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs,” says Dolcini. “I encourage all eligible farmers and ranchers across the spectrum of American agriculture, to get involved in this year's elections. We have seen an increase in the number of qualified nominees, 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 FSA 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. 2016 nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2016.
FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 7, 2016. Ballots must be returned to the local county office via mail or in person by Dec. 5, 2016. Newly-elected committee members and alternates will take office on Jan. 1, 2017.
Nationwide, approximately 7,800 farmers and ranchers serve on FSA county committees. These individuals make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, and other agricultural issues. Committees consist of three to 11 members elected by eligible producers, and members serve three-year terms.
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To learn more about county committees, contact your local FSA county office or visit http://offices.usda.gov to find a county office near you.
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion in disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; and extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA's BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.