Message from FSA state executive director

Letter to the Editor
Thursday, November 15, 2018
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It’s that time of year again. The 2018 Farm Service Agency’s county committee elections are officially underway, and we’re asking for your help. Please take a few minutes to vote in your local county committee election. FSA county committees are a vital and direct link between our farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Earlier this summer, we put out a call for nominations for individuals who would be willing to serve on the committee. Elections are held annually in every county when FSA accepts nominations for a certain Local Administrative Area (LAA). The area up for election rotates each year. Nominations have been made and now it’s time for you to decide who will fill this role.

Ballots are mailed out the week of Nov. 5 to eligible voters. If your LAA had a committee seat open this year, and you are an eligible voter, you can expect to receive a ballot in the mail. Producers who did not receive a ballot can pick one up at the local FSA office.

In states like Montana, it’s important to know that members of American Indian tribes holding agricultural land are eligible to vote in an FSA county committee election if the tribal member meets the voting requirements. For purposes of FSA county committee elections, every member of an American Indian tribe is considered an agricultural landowner if the land on which the tribal member’s voting eligibility is based is tribally owned, or held in trust by the United States for the tribe, even if the individual does not personally produce a crop on that land.

The individuals you elect to serve on your behalf operate within official federal regulations, so that local input is provided on federal programs such as income safety-net loans and payments, including setting county average yields for commodities; conservation programs; incentive, indemnity and disaster payments for some commodities; emergency programs and payment eligibility.

Our FSA county committees make a difference, and if you won’t take it from me, I encourage you to check out stories from county committee members from around the nation. Read their testimonials at you’re there, you can find other information about the elections.

Ballots must be returned to your local FSA office by Dec. 3, 2018. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 3.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make an impact in your local community.

Mike Foster
FSA Executive Director for Montana