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Nominations for county FSA committee are open

August 10, 2004

Colleen Cashell, executive director of the Washington County Farm Service Agency, reminds producers to nominate candidates to serve on their local FSA county committee before the Sept. 3 deadline.

This year's election is being held in Local Area No. 3, the southernmost part of the county; east of Interstate 81 and south of Lappans Road/Alt. U.S. 40.

"We want to make sure that FSA county committees represent a cross-section of farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers in the community," Cashell said. "The county committees are a direct link between the department and the agricultural community in which they serve, and all eligible producers are strongly encouraged to participate in this process."

COC members are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA because they help deliver FSA farm programs at the local level. Farmers who serve on COCs help decide the kind of programs their counties will offer and make sure FSA agricultural programs serve the needs of local producers. Committees make decisions on commodity price support loans and payments, establishment of yields, conservation programs and other issues.

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Almost anyone eligible to take part in a local FSA program and of legal voting age may be a candidate for a COC. The following persons also are eligible to participate in the election process: an owner, operator, tenant, or sharecropper; a spouse listed on the property deed; the spouse of an eligible voter in a community property state; a partner in a general partnership or member of a joint venture that has an interest in a farm as an owner, operator, tenant, or sharecropper; and someone who is not of legal voting age but who supervises and conducts the farming operations on an entire farm.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others as candidates. In addition, candidates can be nominated by organizations representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status or disability.

Nomination forms (FSA-669A) are available at FSA county offices or online at forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eforms/mainservlet and must be returned to FSA county offices by Sept. 3. Nominees will be notified that they have been nominated. Eligible voters will receive ballots in the mail in mid-November. Ballots must be signed and postmarked or delivered to FSA county offices by Dec. 6. On Jan. 1, 2005, elected committee members and alternates will assume their positions.

The COC system was first established in 1936. Today, there are more than 8,000 committee members serving three-year terms in 2,300-plus county offices nationwide. Every year, elections are held for approximately one-third of these seats.

Details on FSA COC elections and eligibility are available at FSA county offices or on FSA's Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/facts/html/elec04.htm.

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