The 2017 Farm Service Agency county committee elections began on Nov. 6, when ballots were mailed to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is Dec. 4. County committee members are an important component of the operations of FSA and provide a link between the 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 price support programs; conservation programs; incentive indemnity and disaster programs for some commodities; emergency programs and eligibility.
FSA 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. Eligible voters in local administrative area who do not receive a ballot can obtain one from their local USDA Service Center. Dec. 4, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers.
Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than Dec. 4. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1. The candidates in this year’s election are:
Howard Schuster is nominated in Erie County, to serve as a committee member. Mr. Schuster resides in Berlin Heights and is a producer of corn, soybeans and wheat. He is an active member of Erie County Farm Bureau and serves on the Berlin Township Zoning Appeals Board. Howard was elected to Erie County FSA Committee in 2014 as a chairperson and is currently seeking re-election.
Paul Demuth Jr is nominated in Erie County, to serve as a committee member. Mr. Demuth resides in Vermilion Township and is a producer of soybeans, potatoes and grass hay. He is an active member of the Erie County Farm Bureau Board and the Ohio Land Improvement Contractors Association
John Fries is nominated in Huron County, to serve as a committee member. Mr. Fries resides in the Norwalk area. John is retired from the farming operation. He is a previous 4-H adviser and currently an active member of the Norwalk Kiwanis. John was elected to Huron County FSA Committee in 2014 as a chairperson and is currently seeking re-election.
Gerald Bollenbacher is nominated in Huron County, to serve as a committee member. Mr. Bollenbacher resides in Lyme Township and is a producer of corn, soybeans and wheat. He is an active member of the Huron County Farm Bureau and the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association and the Ohio Soybean Association.
In other news...
Farm loans available for beginning and targeted underserved producers: FSA has funding to assist beginning farmers and members of targeted underserved groups to finance agricultural enterprises. Under these designated farm loan programs, FSA can provide financing to eligible applicants through either direct or guaranteed loans.
FSA defines a beginning farmer as a person who: Has operated a farm for not more than 10 years; Will materially and substantially participate in the operation of the farm; Agrees to participate in a loan assessment, borrower training and financial management program sponsored by FSA;
Does not own a farm in excess of 30 percent of the county’s average farm size; and Also, the applicant must meet the loan eligibility requirements of the program to which he or she is applying. Targeted underserved applicants are one of a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice because of their identity as a member of the group without regard to their individual qualities. Targeted underserved groups are Women, African Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Certain FSA loan funds are targeted to beginning farmers and underserved groups.
Note: All applicants for direct farm ownership loans must have participated in a business operation of a farm for at least three years. To find out more about loans for beginning farmer and targeted underserved groups contact your local FSA county office to setup an appointment with a loan approval official.
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Dates to remember:
Nov. 15 — The final acreage reporting deadline for hay, forage, pasture and grasses.
Dec. 15 — The final acreage reporting deadline for wheat and all other small grains.