Uplift Tribal Priorities by Participating in the Annual FSA County Election Process

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The Farm Service Agency, often abbreviated as FSA, is an agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FSA can serve as a vital conduit for delivering crucial resources, technical assistance, and financial support to Native farmers and ranchers nationwide.

Getting involved with the annual FSA county committee election process offers a key opportunity to ensure the agency continues improving its programs and services to Indian Country. The annual nomination period began June 17 and ends Aug. 1, 2024.

“Representation is really important, not only from a crop production or livestock production perspective, but also from a demographic perspective,” said the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative Interim Director, Carly Griffith Hotvedt (Cherokee Nation). “Lots of people have different perspectives and different considerations, and it’s helpful to have a diversity of ideas to be included, not just at the county level, but at all levels of FSA.”

As Oklahoma FSA committee member appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, Griffith Hotvedt utilizes her food and agricultural policy and legal expertise with her Cherokee Nation roots to serve farmers and producers across Oklahoma.

“The work that FSA committees do really surrounds the policies and sometimes procedures about how programs are rolled out,” Griffith Hotvedt said. “The FSA committees also hear appeals processes, and that starts at the county level.”

The election process

The staggered elections occur every three years, and the number of county seats up for election can vary, depending upon the size of the county and number of producers.

“To be selected to participate as a representative on an FSA county committee, you have to toss your hat in the ring to run for the office,” Griffith Hotvedt said.

Nominations can come from Tribal governments, individuals, and self-nominations.

Producers with a farm number, as well as Tribal citizens in some instances, can nominate and vote in FSA elections.

“There’s a special designation for county committee districts that are located on reservation. Especially if there is trusted land that is within that county or that district that has been voted on. At that point, that means any tribal citizen of that reservation or tribe that holds that trust land has the ability to participate in the FSA county election process,” Griffith Hotvedt said.

All registered voters who have provided a current address will receive a ballot by mail. Those who are not an FSA customer, please reach out to the agency to update voter eligibility. Learn more about FSA election voting criteria here, and find information on local office locations here.

Within the vast and diverse landscapes of Indian Country, the FSA can play a multifaceted role in supporting agricultural pursuits. Nominate qualified individuals to serve on the FSA County Committees by Aug. 1, 2024, to help the agency expand and improve Indian Country’s access to credit and loans, conservation, disaster assistance, and more.

Learn more about the FSA services, programs, and annual elections in the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative’s podcast Rooted Wisdom: Exploring Tribal Agriculture, and check out IFAI’s resources regarding the FSA County Election process here.