Farmers: Two Ways to Make Your Voice Heard



Farmers, it’s time to stand and be counted. Here are two ways you can make your voice heard this year. 

By voting in — and running for — FSA County Committee elections and by taking the 2017 Ag Census, you can help shape agricultural priorities and policies both locally and nationally. 

1. FSA County Committee Nominations Are Now Open!
The nomination period for FSA County Committees is now open! Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committees consist of a small group of farmers who are each elected for three-year terms. Farmers can nominate themselves or other farmers to be on the committee. Committees make decisions about the agency’s programs and conduct outreach to other farmers to improve participation and access to services. 

The FSA encourages farmers from historically underrepresented groups to participate, including beginning farmers, farmers of color, indigenous farmers, and women.

   
FSA County Committee Election Period 

June 15, 2017 – The nomination period begins. Request nomination forms from the local FSA county office or obtain online at: www.fsa.usda.gov/elections

Aug. 1, 2017 – Last day to file nomination forms at the local FSA county office.

Nov. 6, 2017 – Ballots mailed to eligible voters.

Dec. 4, 2017 – Last day to return voted ballots to the FSA county office.

Jan. 1, 2018 – Newly elected county committee members take office.
 
Please contact us today if you or someone you know might be interested in participating or learning more. Email Tahz Walker at tahz@rafiusa.org. 


FAQ
What do county committees do? 
County committees inform decisions made by FSA offices across the country. Every FSA office is required to have a county committee, and they are made up for local farmers as elected by local farmers. For example, while committees do not decide outright who does or does not receive a loan, they help determine who is eligible for loans, how to handle the committee’s response to local natural disasters, the priority of conservation programs, and other key administrative components of FSA programs.

Who is eligible to be nominated for county committees?
As long as you have a farm number and current address registered with FSA, you are eligible to be nominated.

How do I get nominated to be on the committee?
Farmers can nominate themselves or other farmers to serve on the committee.

Where do I learn more about how to serve on my local committee?
Visit your local FSA office or go online to get more info and the nomination forms: www.fsa.usda.gov/elections

Also be sure to out our Farmer Leadership Network, which supports historically underserved farmers to become part of boards and other decision-making groups like the FSA county committees.   


 
2. It’s an Ag Census year. Make sure your farm is counted! 
Participation in the 2017 Ag Census is an important opportunity not only to make sure your farm counts, but to impact agricultural priorities and policies for your region and the nation. 

>> Learn more and participate at: https://www.agcensus.usda.gov/


Taken once every five years, the Ag Census is the only source of “uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every county in the United States.” (USDA) 

Organizations like ours rely on this information to advocate for farmers, and for the programs and policies that best serve agricultural communities. 

Make sure you’re signed up to take the Ag Census and, if you’re already signed up, be sure to look for it in the mail in December. 



About Jean Willoughby

Jean Willoughby currently serves as RAFI's Communications Manager and Project Director, overseeing our grant program for entrepreneurial and innovative farmers, the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund. She created the Growing Innovation website as an online library to document the Fund's nearly 20-year history of awarding grants to 600+ food and farm businesses.