FAQ: I've been asked to serve on our county's Farm Service Agency committee. Farmers who are on the FSA county committee help oversee how USDA farm programs are carried out. What else is involved? How does the nomination process work?
Answer: John Whitaker, state executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, says the nomination period for this year's FSA County Committee election began June 15, 2012. The nomination period continues through August 1, 2012, with elections taking place this fall.
"FSA sees the role of our county committees as one that is vital," says Whitaker. "Our FSA County Committees operate under official regulations for federal farm programs. Committee members apply their judgment, experience and knowledge when making local decisions."
Process designed to give all types of farmers better chance for input
Individuals who serve on their local FSA County Committee make decisions regarding producers' appeals; commodity price support loans and payments; conservation programs; employing county executive directors; incentive, indemnity and disaster payments for commodities; as well as for other farm disaster assistance. FSA committee members serve three-year terms. Nationally, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by eligible local producers.
"The committee election process is designed to give all producers a better chance of having their opinions and ideas expressed in the community, throughout FSA and the nation. Thus, it is vital that we have a diverse committee, not only in the physical makeup of the committee, but making sure we have representatives from all forms of agriculture," adds Whitaker.
Who can be nominated to serve on the county FSA committee?
USDA is committed to increasing the participation of all farmers on the FSA County Committees, with an emphasis on women and minority farmers. Beginning farmers are also highly encouraged to become involved.
To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must:
- Be of legal voting age and eligible to vote in a county committee election
- Live in the LAA, which stands for Local Administrative Area, that is holding an election
- Participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA
Individuals may nominate themselves or others as candidates. Additionally, organizations representing minorities and women may nominate candidates, says Whitaker.
Deadline to submit a nomination for FSA committee is August 1
To become a nominee, all eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669, which includes a statement that the nominee agrees to serve if elected. Form FSA-669A and other valuable information about the FSA county committee elections is available at the local FSA office and online at: www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. All nomination forms for the 2012 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by close of business on August 1, 2012.
Following the nomination process, FSA will mail ballots to producers beginning November 5, 2012. The completed ballots are due back to the local county office via mail or in person by December 3, 2012. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office January 1, 2013. To learn more about the FSA County Committee elections and other programs administered by FSA, contact your local county office or visit www.fsa.usda.gov.