The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots to eligible farmers and ranchers across the country for the 2017 Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committee elections Monday, November 6.
"County committee members play an indispensable role in our efforts to provide assistance to producers," said FSA Acting Administrator Steve Peterson. "They provide local input as decisions are made about the services we provide, including disaster and emergency programs. I strongly encourage all eligible producers to cast a vote for a candidate that brings expertise and a diverse perspective to their local committee."
To ensure their votes are counted, producers must return ballots to their local FSA offices by December 4. Nearly 7,700 FSA county committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, and emergency programs and eligibility.
Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.7 million producers are currently eligible to vote in this year's election. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.
Farmers and ranchers will begin receiving their ballots the week of November 6. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. FSA has modified the ballot, making it easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked. Voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can pick one up at their local FSA offices. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than December 4. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2018.