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June 09, 2011   Email to Friend 

June 09, 2011

Farmers and ranchers can submit nominations for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees from June 15 until August 1, 2011.

"I urge all farmers and ranchers to participate in this year's county committee elections by nominating candidates by the August 1 deadline," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provide a voice to landowners, farmers and ranchers so they have an opportunity for their opinions and ideas to be heard."

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

Members serve three-year terms, and committees consist of three to 11 members who are elected by eligible producers. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others, and organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates.

"With better participation in recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of nominations of women and minority candidates," Vilsack said. "I hope that trend continues."

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. Nomination forms for the 2011 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business Aug. 1.

Elections will take place this fall. FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 4, and the voted ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates will take office Jan. 2, 2012.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues.

"Farmers know best the programs farmers will need during times of disaster and for conservation as well," said Alabama Farmers Federation Greenhouse, Nursery and Sod Division Director Mac Higginbotham. "This is an excellent opportunity for producers to have input and make decisions on important agricultural programs."

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