Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that USDA is extending the deadline to nominate eligible candidates to serve on USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees until Aug. 15, 2005. The nomination deadline was scheduled for Aug. 1, 2005.

"Our goal is to have as many eligible candidates nominated to serve on FSA county committees as possible, especially minorities and women," said Johanns. "This two-week extension will give USDA personnel, community-based groups, farmer organizations and others more time to continue their outreach efforts so FSA county committees can truly reflect America's agricultural landscape."

Committees apply their judgment and knowledge to make decisions on county commodity price-support loan eligibility, establishment of allotments and yields, conservation programs, disaster programs, employment and other farm program-related issues.

Individuals may nominate themselves or others as a candidate. In addition, eligible candidates can be nominated by community-based and other organizations in the county where the election is being held before the close of the nomination period, especially groups representing socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers. Nominations and elections are open to all eligible candidates and voters without regard to race, color, religion, nation origin, age, sex, marital status or disability. The nomination form (FSA-669A) is available at USDA Service Centers and online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections.

Producers should keep in mind several important dates regarding the upcoming county committee elections. Producers can request, fill out and submit nomination forms up to Aug. 15, 2005. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 4, 2005. The deadline to return ballots is Dec. 5, 2005. Elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2006.

For more information about FSA county committees, visit a local USDA Service Center or go online at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/pas/publications/elections.