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The 2018 Farm Service Agency County Committee Elections began on Nov. 5, when ballots were mailed to eligible voters. The deadline to return the ballots to local FSA offices is Dec. 3, 2018.

County committee members are an important component of the operations of FSA and provide a link between the agricultural community and USDA. Farmers and ranchers elected to county committees help deliver FSA programs at the local level, applying their knowledge and judgment to make decisions on commodity price support programs; conservation programs; incentive indemnity and disaster programs for some commodities; emergency programs and eligibility. FSA committees operate within official regulations designed to carry out federal laws.

To be an eligible voter, farmers and ranchers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program. A person who is not of legal voting age but supervises and conducts the farming operations of an entire farm, may also be eligible to vote.

Eligible voters in Local Administrative Area 1, who do not receive a ballot can obtain one from their local USDA Service Center. Dec. 3, 2018, is the last day for voters to submit ballots in person to local USDA Service Centers. Ballots returned by mail must also be postmarked no later than Dec. 3. Newly elected committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2019.

The candidates in this year’s election are:

Christine Patrick is nominated in LAA 1, Bladen County, to serve as a committee member for a 3-year term. Patrick resides in the Buckhead Community and has produced a variety of crops and livestock and is a past alternate to the County Committee.

Christopher White is nominated in LAA 1, Bladen County, to serve as a committee member for a 3-year term. White resides in the Lisbon Community and has produced a variety of crops and has an active grape vineyard.

Israel Cromartie is nominated in LAA 1, Bladen County, to serve as a committee member for a 3-year term. Cromartie resides in the Lisbon Community and has produced a variety of crops and is a past member and advisor to the County Committee.

USDA Enrollment Period for Safety Net Coverage in 2018

Farmers and ranchers with generic base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program still have time to enroll for the 2018 crop year. Producers with generic base acres have until Dec. 7, 2018, to allocate generic base acres, update yields, make a program election for seed cotton base acres and enroll farms that formerly contained generic base acres.

Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed, wheat and upland cotton. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

Please visit or contact the Bladen County Farm Service Agency at 910-862-3179 for more information on these and other programs.

ECP, Emergency Conservation Program

The Emergency Conservation Program sign-up period began Nov. 1, 2018 and will run through December 31, 2018. This program will assist farmers in debris clean up from cropland fields, and for shaping and leveling wash outs in cropland fields caused by Hurricane Florence. Roads cannot be considered in this program. At this time there will be no extension of time to sign up and to present your estimates to the COC to consider cost share assistance. Please make this a priority so that we can obtain funding for this vital program.

Please visit or contact the Bladen County Farm Service Agency at 910-862-3179 for more information on these and other disaster assistance programs.

More information on county committees, such as the new 2018 fact sheet, can be found on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections or at a local USDA Service Center.

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