<h5><strong>By Tammy M. Goodyear<\/strong>\r\n<strong>Executive Director<\/strong>\r\n<strong>Patrick FSA Office<\/strong><\/h5>\r\n<h1>The 2017 Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Committee Elections began on November 6, when ballots were mailed to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is December 4.<\/h1>\r\nCounty committee members are an important component of the operations of FSA and provide a link between the agricultural community and USDA. Farmers 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.\r\n\r\nTo be an eligible voter, farmers 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.\r\n\r\nEligible voters in local administrative area 2 who do not receive a ballot can obtain one from their local USDA Service Center. December 4 is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers.\r\n\r\nElections in LAA 2 include the communities east of Salem Hwy. which includes part of Stuart, Critz, Moorefield Store and Stella. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than December 4. Newly elected committee members will take office January 1, 2018.\r\n\r\nThe candidates in this year\u2019s election are:\r\n<ul>\r\n \t<li>Judith L. Sparks is nominated in LAA 2, Patrick County, to serve as a committee member. Sparks resides in Stuart and produces hay, pasture, beef cattle, sheep, goats and poultry.<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\nShe is an active member of Patrick County Cattlemen's Association.\r\n<ul>\r\n \t<li>Darryl C. Smith is nominated in LAA 2, Patrick County, to serve as a committee member. Smith resides in Stuart and produces hay, pasture and beef cattle.<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\nHe is an active member of Patrick County Cattlemen's Association.\r\n\r\nMore information on county committees, such as the new 2017 fact sheet, can be found on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov\/elections or by calling the Patrick FSA Office at (276) 694-3121, extension 2.