Farmers can nominate candidates to serve on USDA Farm Service Agency county committees from now until Aug. 1 for county committee elections to be held in the fall.

“Farmers and ranchers have an important opportunity to ensure that their FSA county committees represent them by participating in the county committee election process," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Farmers who serve on county committees help make decisions necessary to administer federal farm programs offered in their communities, including commodity price support loans and payments, conservation programs, disaster payments.

Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in programs administered by FSA and live in the local administrative area conducting an election may be nominated for candidacy for a committee. Farmers and ranchers can obtain a complete list of eligibility requirements by visiting a local USDA Service Center or online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/facts/html/cocelig06.htm.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others as candidates. Additionally, community based organizations representing minorities and women may nominate candidates. To become a nominee, eligible individuals must sign nomination form FSA-669A. The form includes a statement that the nominee agrees to serve if elected.

Johanns said farmers and ranchers should keep the following important dates in mind during the 2006 county committee election process:

-- The nomination period began June 15 and August 1 is the deadline to file nomination forms at the local USDA Service Center.

-- USDA will mail ballots to eligible voters by Nov. 3. The last day to return voted ballots to the local USDA Service Center is Dec. 4.

-- Newly elected county committee members take office Jan. 1, 2007.

The Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act established the county committee system in 1936. Today, there are close to 8,000 FSA county committee members serving three-year terms in more than 2,300 county offices.

For more information about FSA county committees or to obtain a nomination form (FSA-669A), visit a local USDA Service Center or online at:http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections/Default.asp.

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