Voter turnout is usually light so the county executive director of the Phillips County Farm Service Agency is busy trying to get the word out about the upcoming county committee elections.

Voter turnout is usually light so the county executive director of the Phillips County Farm Service Agency is busy trying to get the word out about the upcoming county committee elections.

“FSA's county committees are critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA and allows grassroots input and local administration of federal programs,” commented Theodore Eldridge, Jr. “ I want to encourage all farmers, ranchers and FSA program participants to take part in the county committee election process.”

County committees are made up of locally elected agricultural producers . They are responsible for the fair and equitable administration of farm programs in their respective counties. Committee members answer directly to the Secretary of Agriculture.

According to Eldridge, county committees consists of three to 11 elected members from local administrative areas. Each member serves a 3-year term. A third of the positions on the committees are up for election each year. The county committees also may have one or more appointed advisors to further represent the local interests of underserved farmers and ranchers.

Eldridge went on to say that underserved producers are defined as beginning farmers, women and other minority farmers and ranchers and land owners and/or operators with limited resources. Other minority groups include Native Americans and Alaska natives, persons under the poverty level and persons that have disabilities.

All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA service center by August 1.

For additional information about FSA county committee elections refer to the FSA fact sheet “Eligibility to Vote and Hold Office as a COC Member” available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

This year's election is for Local Administrative Area 1 (LAA 1), which includes the areas of Helena-West Helena, Helena Crossing, part of Old Town, Southland, Barton, Lexa, and Poplar Grove.

“Please nominate and vote for any farmer or landowner participating in Farm Service Agency programs,” concluded Eldridge. “Please contact our office if you are not sure of your voting eligibility or area.”