Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that farmers, ranchers and others across the country can nominate eligible candidates for the 2005 elections to serve on USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees through Aug. 1. The first day to file nomination forms was June 15.

“County committees play an integral role in the local implementation of Farm Service Agency programs,” said Johanns. “I encourage all producers, community-based groups and others who care about American agriculture to participate in the county committee election process by nominating eligible candidates, especially minorities and women.”

Farmers who serve on county committees help ensure FSA agricultural programs adequately serve the needs of local producers. Committees make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other issues.

To be an eligible candidate, a person must participate or cooperate in an FSA program, be of legal voting age and live in the county or area where the election is being held. USDA will implement a program to encourage greater participation of minority and women producers in the county committee election process.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others as candidates. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based organizations, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, before the close of the nomination period.

Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 4, 2005. The deadline to return ballots is Dec. 5, 2005. Elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2006.

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