Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees has begun.

To be eligible to serve on a 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.

Nomination forms for the 2013 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2013. Elections will take place this fall. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they 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 on Nov. 4. The voted ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 2.

Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2014.