AGRICULTURE SECRETARY Ann M. Veneman announced that elections for local USDA Farm Service Agency County Committees have begun.

“FSA County Committee members make decisions on how federal farm programs fit the needs of local producers,” said Veneman. “We hope that all eligible voters participate in these elections to insure that these committees represent the interests of all producers in a community.”

Voting ballots have been mailed to eligible voters. Eligible voters who have not received ballots can acquire them from their administering FSA offices. Eligible voters must participate or cooperate in FSA programs. A county or multi-county area served by the county committee is divided into local administrative areas. One member on the county committee represents each local administrative area. A person may vote in only one local administrative area in each county or area.

Ballots must be returned to FSA offices or postmarked by Dec. 6, 2004. All ballots will be counted publicly by Dec. 20, 2004. Nominees may challenge elections within 15 days after the results of an election are posted, if they desire. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office Jan. 1, 2005.