The election of agricultural producers to Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees is important to ALL farmers and ranchers, whether beginning or long-established with large or small operations. It is crucial that every eligible producer participate in these elections because FSA county committees are a link between the agricultural community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
County committee members are a critical component of the operations of FSA. They help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level. Farmers and ranchers who serve on county committees help with the decisions necessary to administer the programs in their counties. They work to ensure FSA agricultural programs serve the needs of local producers.
County committees provide local input on:
- Commodity price support loans and payments
- Incentive, indemnity and disaster payments for some commodities
FSA county committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws. County committee members apply their judgment and knowledge to make local decisions.
June 15, 2012 – The nomination period begins. Request nomination forms from the local USDA Service Center or obtain online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
Aug. 1, 2012 – Last day to file nomination forms at the local USDA Service Center
Nov. 5, 2012 – Ballots mailed to eligible voters
Dec. 3, 2012 – Last day to return voted ballots to the USDA Service Center
Jan. 1, 2013 – Newly elected county committee members take office.
Who Can Vote
Agricultural producers of legal voting age may be eligible to vote if they participate or cooperate in any FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm also may be eligible to vote. Members of American Indian tribes holding agricultural land are eligible to vote if voting requirements are met. More information about voting eligibility requirements can be found in the FSA fact sheet titled "FSA County Committee Election - Eligibility to Vote and Hold Office as a County Committee Member." Producers may contact their local USDA Service Center for more information.
To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign nomination form FSA-669A. The form includes a statement that the nominee agrees to serve if elected. This form is available at USDA Service Centers and online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
Nomination forms for the 2012 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2012.
Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in an FSA program may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Individuals may nominate themselves or others as a candidate. Additionally, organizations representing minority and women farmers or ranchers may nominate candidates. Nomination forms are filed for the county committee of the office that administers a producer's farm records.
Don't Miss Out on Voting
Ballots will be mailed to voters by Nov. 5, 2012, and must be returned to the FSA county office or postmarked by Dec. 3, 2012. Eligible voters must contact their local FSA county office before the final date if they did not receive a ballot.
USDA issued uniform guidelines for county committee elections to help ensure that FSA county committees fairly represent the agricultural producers of a county or multi-county jurisdiction, especially minority and women producers. Minorities are African-Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Asians, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders. The guidelines govern the FSA county committee election process and are designed to increase participation of minorities and women.
The following are just some of the specifics of the guidelines that are now in effect:
- If no valid nominations are filed, the Secretary of Agriculture may nominate up to two individuals to be placed on the ballot.
- County committees must annually review local administrative area boundaries to ensure the fair representation of minority and women producers in their county or multi-county jurisdictions.
- FSA county offices shall actively locate and recruit eligible candidates identified as minority and women farmers and ranchers as potential nominees for the county committee elections through outreach and publicity, including the development of partnerships with community-based organizations.
To read the guidelines in their entirety, visit the County Committee Elections page at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
In addition to minority and women producers, USDA strongly encourages beginning farmers to actively seek a position on a county committee.
Role of Advisors
In addition to elected members, FSA county committees may also include advisors. Advisors are appointed to county committees in counties or multi-county jurisdictions that have significant numbers of minority or women producers and lack such members on FSA county committees. Advisors play an important role by providing diverse viewpoints and by representing the interests of minorities and women in decisions made by county committees. FSA state committees officially appoint advisors who are recommended by county committees or community- based organizations.
For More Information
For more information about FSA county committees, visit a local FSA or USDA Service Center or the website at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of Discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.