The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin mailing ballots for the Farm Service Agency (FSA) county and urban county committee elections to all eligible agricultural producers and private landowners across the country. Elections are occurring in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these committee members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. To be counted, producers and landowners must return ballots to their local FSA county office or be postmarked by Dec. 6. 

Union County producers in Big Sioux, Civil Bend, Jefferson, Elk Point East and Elk Point West townships should have received ballots in the mail and are encouraged to vote in the FSA County Committee election that is currently taking place. Chad Fennel has been nominated for the position and is on the ballot. Producers must return the ballot to the Union County FSA Office by Dec. 6 deadline to ensure that their vote is counted.

“Now is your opportunity to elect fellow farmers and ranchers in your community to serve on the local county committee,” FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux said. “These committees are a critical piece to the work we do by providing knowledge and judgment as decisions are made about the services we provide. Your voice and vote matters.”

FSA County Committee members provide an important link between the local agricultural community and USDA. Farmers and ranchers elected to county committees help deliver FSA programs at the local level, applying their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility. County committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age, but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm may also be eligible to vote.

The newly elected committee member will take office Jan. 1, 2022.

Eligible voters who do not receive a ballot in the mail can request one from their local FSA county office, 1101 E. Main, Elk Point, 605-356-3315.

“This election is only for producers/owners in the Southern part of Union County,” Vermillion FSA Keith Zanter said. “There are three areas in Union County: North1/3, Middle 1/3 and Southern 1/3. Elections of each area are held every 3rd year.”

About committees

Each committee has from three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office, and at least one seat representing an LAA is up for election each year. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2022.

Urban and suburban county committees

Ballots to elect urban committee members were sent beginning Nov. 1. These elections will serve local urban producers in the same jurisdiction. A fact sheet on the urban county committee election and a list of eligible cities can be found at fsa.usda.gov/elections.

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to form urban county committees as well as make other advancements related to urban agriculture, including the establishment of the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Urban county committees will work to encourage and promote urban, indoor and other emerging agricultural production practices. Committee members will provide outreach to ensure urban producers understand USDA programs and serve as the voice of other urban producers. Additionally, the new county committees may address areas such as food access, community engagement, support of local activities to promote and encourage community compost and food waste reduction. Learn more at farmers.gov/urban.