USDA Farm Service Agency administrator in Washington, D.C., Juan M. Garcia, announced last week that the FSA county committee elections would begin on December 20, with the mailing of "corrected" ballots to eligible voters. The deadline for farmers to return these ballots to local FSA offices is January 17, 2014. John Whitaker, state executive director of FSA in Iowa, sent the following USDA press release to farm publications and other news media in Iowa on December 20.
The USDA press release points out that producers have been instructed to destroy the FSA County Committee Election ballots (FSA-669's) that were mailed to farmers by FSA on November 4. The new ballots mailed to producers on December 20 will have the word "corrected" printed on the outside of the mailing, and on the ballot itself and on the return envelope. Producers must complete and return the corrected FSA-669 to have their vote counted.
FSA says corrected ballots were mailed to eligible producers on December 20 and must be returned by January 17, 2014
Eligible voters who do not receive a ballot in the week after the December 20 mailing can obtain one from their local USDA Service Center. The last day for voters to submit corrected ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers is January 17, 2014. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than January 17. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office February 18, 2014.
County committee members are an important component of the operations of FSA and provide a link between the agricultural community and USDA. Farmers and ranchers elected to county committees help deliver FSA programs at the local level, applying their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on commodity price support programs; conservation programs; incentive indemnity and disaster programs for some commodities; emergency programs and eligibility. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.
Farmers are encouraged to vote in their county FSA committee elections
To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm may also be eligible to vote. Agricultural producers in each county submitted candidate nominations during the nomination period, which ended on August 1, 2013.
Close to 7,700 FSA county committee members serve in the 2,124 FSA offices nationwide, according to USDA. Each committee consists of three to 11 members who serve three-year terms. Approximately one-third of the county committee seats are up for election each year. More information on county FSA committees, such as the 2013 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website or at a local USDA Service Center.