ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County farmers and ranchers have about a week to nominate themselves or others to serve on local U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency committees.
Local and national USDA officials are reminding agricultural producers of the approaching Aug. 1 nomination deadline.
“There’s still time for eligible farmers and ranchers to get involved in this year’s county committee elections,” FSA Administrator Juan Garcia said in a statement. “Nominate yourself or a candidate of your choice to serve on the local county committee. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”
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 where the person is nominated.
“County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “I hope that every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year’s county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs.”
Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates to the local FSA committee.
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 at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.
Nomination forms for the 2014 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2014. Elections will take place this fall.
Completed nomination forms should be sent to the Richmond County FSA office at 123 Caroline St., Suite 400, Rockingham. For more informaton, call the office at 910-895-3950.
While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms.
Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.
The FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 3, 2014. Ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 1, 2014. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2015.