The United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency County Committee elections are underway in Stearns County and throughout the state.  
    It is important that every eligible producer participate in these elections because FSA county committees are a link between the agricultural community and the USDA. The 2018 election in Stearns County will be conducted for the representative local administrative area No. 2 which includes the townships of Ashley, Raymond, Sauk Centre, Getty, Melrose, Grove, Millwood, Oak, Krain, Albany, Holding and Avon.
    Stearns County has one nominee for the committee, Tara Meyer. The following is a biography that Tara wanted to share with the voters.
    “My husband, Nick, and I own Meyer Dairy LLC located south of Sauk Centre,” Meyer said. “We milk 250 cows, raise all of our youngstock, as well as corn, soybeans and alfalfa. We have two elementary aged children. I would like to serve on the Stearns County FSA County Committee because I want to be sure the farmers of my LAA are represented well. As your minority advisor for the last four years, I have learned and have a good understanding of FSA and the FSA programs. I have served on the Stearns County Breakfast on the Farm Committee for the past 11 years, serve as the Getty Township Clerk and volunteer for many other activities throughout the year. I hope you will consider voting for me to serve your LAA district for FSA.”
    County committee members are a critical component of FSA operations. Committees should be comprised of members who reflect the diversity of producers involved in production agriculture in Stearns County. This means producers representing underserved groups or communities should be on the committee to speak on behalf of their constituency.  
    Underserved producers are beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers and land owners and/or operators who have limited resources. Other minority groups including Native American and Alaska Natives, persons under the poverty level, and persons who have disabilities are also considered underserved.
    To be eligible to vote in the elections, a person must:
    Meet requirement one or meet requirement two and requirement three.
    Requirement one: Be of legal voting age and have an interest in a farm or ranch as either: an individual who meets one or more of the following; is eligible to vote in one’s own right, is a partner of a general partnership, is a member of a joint venture. Or, an authorized representative of a legal entity, such as: a corporation, estate, trust, limited partnership or other business enterprise, excluding general partnership and joint ventures; a state, political subdivision of a state or any state agency (only the designated representative may cast a vote for the entity).  
    Requirement two: Not of legal voting age but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm.
    Requirement three: Participates or cooperates in an FSA program that is provided by law.
    County committee election ballots were mailed to eligible voters Nov. 5.  The last day to return completed ballots to the Stearns County USDA service center is Dec. 3.
    Farm Service Agency is an Equal Opportunity Lender. Complaints about discrimination should be sent to: Secretary of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250. Visit the Farm Service Agency Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov/ for necessary application forms and updates on USDA programs.