David Schaad, acting executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in California announced farmer and rancher candidate nominations begin June 15 for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees. The nomination period continues through Aug. 3, 2009. Elections take place this fall.

"I encourage all producers to participate in the county committee election process by nominating candidates by the Aug. 3 deadline. We are counting on as much participation as possible, because county committees are an important link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have seen a trend in recent years of increased nominations of minority and women producers and we hope that will continue."

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 in which the person is a candidate.

Producers may also nominate themselves, and organizations representing minority and women may also nominate candidates. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign form FSA-669A. The form and other valuable information about FSA county committee elections are available online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=newsroom&subject=landing&topic=cce.

Nomination forms for the 2009 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 3, 2009.

FSA county committee members make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other important agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by eligible local producers.

FSA will mail ballots to producers beginning Nov. 6th. The voted ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 7, 2009.

Newly elected committee members and alternates take office Jan. 1, 2010.

Find FSA news releases on the agency's Web site at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov.