The nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees is now open until Aug. 1.

"County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provide a voice to landowners, farmers and ranchers so that they have an opportunity for their opinions and ideas to be heard," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others, and organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available online at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

Nomination forms must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1.

FSA county committees make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms.

FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 5. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2013.