ELLICOTTVILLE - The 2012 Farm Service Agency county committee elections have begun with the mailing of ballots to eligible voters in the towns of Machias, Yorkshire, Farmersville, Freedom, Franklinville, Ischua and Lyndon.
The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is Dec. 3.
"The role and input of our county committee members is more vital than ever," said Jean Davis, Farm Service Agency county executive director. "New county committee members provide input and make important decisions on the local administration of disaster and conservation programs. With better participation in recent years, we also have seen promising increases in the number of women and minority candidates."
Eligible voters who do not receive ballots in the coming week can obtain ballots from their local USDA Service Center. Dec. 3 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local U.S. Agriculture Department service centers. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than Dec. 3. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1.
To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program.
While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm 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.
More information on county committees, such as the new 2012 fact sheet and brochures, can be found on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections or at a local USDA Service Center.