Are you interested in having a seat at the table and giving your input on producer appeals, conservation programs, and/or disaster assistance? Do you want to have the power to hire the Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director who oversees daily FSA office operations in your area? If so, please consider running for a seat on your local FSA County Committee!
Serving on an FSA County Committee can be a challenging, but rewarding, commitment. There’s an overwhelming need for more young, beginning, small, BIPOC, women, and NBLGBTQIA2+ farmers like us on FSA County Committees, who have been historically underserved by FSA programs. It‘s important that FSA County Committees are aware of the unique needs of ALL farmers, as well as all farms (all scales, products, and practices). Increasing our presence on these committees is important not just for equitable representation, but to ensure past injustices are redressed and discrimination is identified and eliminated. We have the potential to make sure there are no barriers to accessing any FSA program resources for any qualifying farmer.
Though we inherited an economic system designed to maximize profits for a few, each day we create farm and community structures that feed us and our communities. In carving out space for ourselves, we remain uniquely positioned to advocate for and change policy, to begin the transformation toward mutual benefit for all farmers.
So, especially if you are a farmer who has been historically underserved by FSA, please consider running for your county committee! It’s a powerful way to make your voice heard, connect with your regional farming community, and set the precedent for equal representation of all farmers.
As of June 15, 2022, the nomination period has begun. You can nominate yourself or someone else to serve on the committee, and organizations can also nominate producers. Forms must be submitted to the nominee’s local FSA office or postmarked on or before August 1, 2022. Forms must also be signed by the nominee (those who are nominated by another individual or organization will be contacted by the local office). Nomination forms and eligibility guidelines are available at your local FSA office, or online at fsa.usda.gov/elections.
Whether you’re ready to run for the committee and serve more farmers, or simply interested in finding out about FSA programs that can fit your needs, it is important to stay well informed about your local FSA County Committee and its elections. They often have a direct and significant impact on the lives and livelihoods of farmers in their service area. One of the best ways to stay informed is the same as it’s always been: to build relationships at your local FSA office. Farmers maintaining relationships with those in their office increase their chances of coming to mind when FSA programs open, and at election time.
We’ve heard from farmers all over the country that there hasn’t been enough information about FSA County Committee candidates, and crucial elections information hasn’t been made readily available. You can change that in your sphere by talking to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues about the arrival of election season, sharing the available election materials, and asking your local office for any additional information you want to have and share.
Need more information on who may vote and how? Visit: www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
- Agricultural producers of legal voting age may be eligible to vote if they participate or cooperate in any FSA program. A cooperating producer is someone who has provided information about their farming or ranching operation(s) but may not have applied or received FSA program benefits. A person who is not of legal voting age but supervises and conducts the operations of an entire farm also may be eligible to vote. Members of American Indian tribes holding agricultural land are eligible to vote if voting requirements are met.
- Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by November 7, 2022, and must be returned to the FSA county office or postmarked by December 5, 2022. Eligible voters must contact their local FSA county office before the final date if they did not receive a ballot.
Other relevant Farm Service Agency links:
- Find your local FSA Office
- FSA County Committee Brochure (short overview with dates)
- FSA County Committee Fact Sheet (eligibility, role of advisors and appointed member voting)
- USDA County Committee Elections Main Page (includes election materials and the complete list of COCs for Urban Agriculture)
- USDA Press Release: “Farm Service Agency Now Accepting Nominations for Farmers and Ranchers to Serve on Local County Committees”