Martin J. Garcia, executive director for the Duval County Farm Service Agency (FSA), reminds eligible voters that County Committee elections are underway. On Nov. 2, FSA mailed ballots to all eligible voters. Completed ballots must be postmarked by midnight on Dec. 3.

"FSA County Committees make decisions on commodity loans and payments; allotments, yields, marketing quotas, eligibility for conservation programs as well as disaster assistance," Garcia said "This Committee is the producer's voice in making national programs fit local situations representing the customers for the individuals USDA programs are designed to serve," he added.

Garcia stressed that the FSA County Committee system will only work well if all of FSA's customers are actively involved in how the agency's programs are administered. FSA's County Committee system needs diverse representation small and large farm/ranch operators, truck farmers, specialty crop producers, livestock producers and local businessmen and women.

"Diversity is a must in today's changing world of agriculture from people on the business side of the operation to those who plant for specific markets. The County Committee should represent the demographics of the communities they serve," said Garcia.

Garcia encourages all eligible voters to cast their ballots this year. He emphasized that if you are eligible to participate in FSA programs, you are eligible to vote and; if you are eligible to vote, you are eligible to serve on the County Committee.

"While we try to send ballots to all eligible voters, we may have missed one or two," said Garcia. "Persons who believe they qualify to vote in this election, and did not receive a ballot should contact our office," he said.

In Texas, the spouse of an eligible voter is also eligible to vote and a person under legal age can vote, if he or she operates a farm or ranch. No person can be denied the right to vote.

"It is crucial that every eligible voter take part in this election because county committees are a direct link between the local agriculture community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grassroots committees are comprised of and make decisions for producers and concerned citizens that live and work in the local community," said Garcia.

Nominees for the Duval County Committee are Elma C. Stockwell and Victoriano Leal. The elected person(s) will represent LAA #2. The boundary for LAA #2 is the area west of Hwy 359 and west of Hwy - 16 and west 44 from Freer towards Encinal.

For information, contact the Duval County Farm Service Agency at 361-256-3342.