ACTION: Women Farmers are Needed to Serve on USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committees!
Download our PDF about County Committees here.
Are you a woman farmer who participates in FSA programs? Your voice and input are needed on your local FSA County Committee. These committees serve to help deliver FSA programs to our local communities and provide a means for farmers and ranchers to make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve your needs.
The USDA is committed to increasing participation of all farmers and ranchers on these committees, and is in particular need of more women to serve, including new and beginning female farmers.
Why Join a Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee?
Right now, nationally less than 20% of FSA County Committee members are women, so clearly there is a need and opportunity for more women to run. According to research from VoteRunLead, women win at the same rate as men when we run for office, we just don’t run as often. Additionally, the number one way a woman will run for office is to be asked – so please encourage other women farmers you know to get involved.
Your Responsibilities as a Committee Member:
• Meet monthly to provide local input and representation on FSA programs.
• This is a three-year term commitment
• Participate in training for your role as a Committee Member.
• As a Committee Member, you must abide by some of the same rules that apply to FSA employees and will be reimbursed your miles and receive approximately $17 per hour compensation for time spent on committee meetings and related work. Exact amount varies on your specific location. This position does not have full-time employee benefits.
FSA County Committee Specifics:
• Have on average 3 members per county, but can range up to 11.
• Each service center area is divided into 3-5 LAAs (Local Administration Areas). One representative is elected from each LAA.
Three Steps to Run for County Committee
1) Identify if a position is open in your county
• Contact your county FSA office to see which LAA is up for election in your county.
One of each county’s LAAs is up for election each year (i.e., 1/3 of County Committee Positions)
• If this position is open and no one is running, run!
• If a position is not open where you live, recruit another woman who lives in the area where there is an opening.
2) Submit a nomination
• You can nominate yourself or someone else between 6/15 and 8/1. Forms must be signed by the nominee and can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections
• In November, ballots are mailed to eligible voters and in December ballots are submitted and counted. In January, members take office.
Alternate route: Serve as a Minority Advisor
• Each county has the opportunity to appoint one farmer to the County Committee as a “Minority Advisor” position to represent a farmer voice not reflected in the elected committee.
• Quite often, as the County Committee is exclusively male, women farmers are encouraged to serve as Minority Advisors.
• The Minority Advisor has all the roles, responsibilities, training and compensation as fully elected County Committee roles except does not vote.
Next Step to serve as Minority Advisor:
• Contact your county FSA office in January after the FSA County Committee election is complete to see if there is a need for a women farmer to serve as Minority Advisor (i.e., all three elected members are males).
• If there is a need, offer to serve. Most likely, the FSA office will be happy to have you offer to serve in this role.
• Your nomination would then officially be approved by your FSA State Committee and then you’re on your way to be trained and start your service in March.
“I served on my Martin County Committee for 3 terms and found the experience very rewarding. As a female farmer for 35+ years, the 4th generation to operate this farm, the process allowed me to gain more in-depth knowledge of FSA programs and produces, while also proudly representing women in agriculture at a time when there is still much progress to be made.I would strongly encourage more women to step out of their comfort zone and run for their local county committees.” --- Kristy Kittleson, Martin County, MN
Other supporting documents: