FSA programs explained: County Committee elections
November 3, 2011
If you keep up with current events, one would think that the congressional and presidential elections were being held next week instead of next year. I am sure that there are people out there that can’t wait for elections and for their opportunity to be heard. So, if you like elections then let me remind you of an election coming up this year that many people forget about, the Farm Service Agency County Committee elections.
Each year, the Farm Service Agency’s County Committee has at least one representative up for re-election. There is always at least one committee member up for re-election because each county or counties are divided into at least three local administrative areas or LAAs. These LAAs are geographic boundaries within the county that establish the representative boundary for which the County Committee member represents and are elected. Each committee member serves a three-year term with elections rotating every year.
If you are a producer in the LAA that is up for re-election, you should take the opportunity to vote. Ballots will be mailed out to the producer and will need to be returned to the Farm Service Agency Service Center no later than Dec. 5.
Some producers’ farms may lie in more than one LAA; in this case usually the location of your headquarters will determine your LAA. You may only vote in one LAA. If you are unsure of the LAA in which you reside, each FSA office should maintain a map of the county depicting each LAA. If you do not live in the county in which you conduct your FSA business and do not know which LAA you are assigned, it would be a good idea to contact your FSA Service Center and ask. It never hurts to ask.
If you believe that you reside in a LAA up for reelection, and did not receive a ballot, you should contact your local Farm Service Agency Service Center and inquire as to why you did not receive a ballot.
In order to be eligible to vote, you must be of legal voting age and have an interest in a farm or ranch as an owner, operator, tenant or sharecropper. You may still vote if you are not of legal voting age if you supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm. Additionally, producers must be eligible to participate in any FSA program. This does not mean that you must participate, only that you are eligible to participate.
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Businesses such as LLCs or corporations are eligible to vote if it meets the definitions listed above. If you operate as a business entity, such as an LLC or a corporation, you must have signature authority for the entity and have filed the required paperwork in the county office proving your ability to sign for the entity.
I encourage everyone to vote in this year’s County Committee election. The Farm Service Agency depends on the County Committee to provide valuable knowledge and insight to our farm programs. Local elections are important to electing County Committee members because through these elections, producers provide their input in the Farm Service Agency.
james neill is the county executive director for the farm service agency in meade county, sd and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. questions about the county committee elections or any other farm service agency program should be directed to your local farm service agency service center.