County committee ballots are due in the FSA office by Monday, Dec. 3.

Julie Vulk, executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Winneshiek County, reminds eligible voters that the county committee elections are in progress. Ballots have been mailed and completed ballots must be returned by mail or delivered to the Winneshiek County FSA office.

"By voting, producers have a voice in their local community since the county committee members play a huge role in the Agency, especially at the county level," said Vulk.

"County committee members make decisions on how federal farm programs will be administered locally," she said.

Voters in Local Administrative Area No. 3, representing Glenwood, Decorah, Military Bloomfield, Frankville and Springfield townships received ballots for this year's election and will be voting to elect a representative from this area. Candidates on the ballot include: Margaret Elsbernd, who has served one term on the committee plus two years as a minority advisor to the committee; Dennis Blumhagen, a former committee person; and Mark Steffens, who has not previously served on the committee.

Anyone elgible to vote who did not receive a ballot, should contact the Winneshiek County FSA for a replacement ballot.

County committee members are elected to office by their peers and serve as the representative voice for agriculture producers in the county and are responsible for communicating with USDA to ensure that national programs are adapted to fit local needs. County committees are responsible for making decisions on issues including commodity loans and payments, conservation programs, disaster assistance programs and emergency programs.

Vulk encourages minority and female producers to serve as county committee members in the future. It is important that the county committee is comprised of members who reflect the demographics of the local agriculture community.

Farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs are eligible to vote. If eligible voters do not receive a ballot by mail, one will be provided by the local USDA Service Center. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 3, 2012. New county committee members will assume their role and related responsibilities Jan. 1, 2013.

For more information on the County Committee election, contact the Winneshiek County FSA office at 563-382-8777 or on-line at www.fsa.usda.gov.