Vernon County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Katharine Lewison announced Nov. 19 that FSA mailed ballots to eligible voters for the 2015 FSA County Committee elections Nov. 9. Producers must return ballots to the Vernon County FSA office by Dec. 7 to ensure that their vote is counted.
“County committee members play an important role in their communities and provide a link between the agricultural community and USDA,” said Lewison.
This year, local administrative area #1 is up for election and the candidates in this year’s Vernon County election are:
• Timothy Erickson of Viroqua produces corn, oats and hay. He is also a dairy producer who raises dairy steers in the Liberty Pole area for 30 plus years. He was a past board delegate of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA).
• John Hanson of Viroqua produces corn, soybeans, hay and has raised red angus cattle for 40 plus years. He is a DeSoto FFA alumnus and past president of Vernon Co-op Oil.
• Richard Hansen of Viroqua has produced corn, soybeans and hay. He served on the Vernon County Board, the Land and Water Conservation Committee and was past secretary of the Conservation Alliance.
• Jeffrey Parr of Ferryville produces corn, soybeans, alfalfa and mixed forages. Parr was a previous dairy producer who has transitioned to beef cattle in the Retreat area, and has been involved in agriculture for 30 years. He is a member of Farm Bureau, many local cooperatives, and is a FFA and 4-H alumnus.
• John (Jack) Walleser of Viroqua produces corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and raises angus cattle in the rural Retreat area for 50 plus years. Walleser is currently serving as Vice-Chairperson of the Farm Service Agency County Committee, and was previously the Chairperson. He is a member of the Farm Bureau and Vernon County Cattlemen’s Association, and has served on the Vernon County Fair Board.
Nearly 7,700 FSA County Committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office. One-third of county committee seats are up for election each year. County committee members apply their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs; conservation programs; indemnity and disaster programs; emergency programs and eligibility.
Producers must participate or cooperate in an FSA program to be eligible to vote in the county committee election. Approximately 1.9 million producers are currently eligible to vote. Farmers and ranchers who supervise and conduct the farming operations of an entire farm, but are not of legal voting age, also may be eligible to vote.
Farmers and ranchers began receiving their ballots the week of Nov. 9. Ballots include the names of candidates running for the local committee election. FSA has modified the ballot, making it more easily identifiable and less likely to be overlooked.
Voters who have not received ballots in the coming week can pick one up at the Vernon County FSA office, 220 Airport Rd., Viroqua. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than Dec. 7. Newly elected committee members and their alternates will take office Jan. 1, 2016.
For more information, visit the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. You may also contact the Vernon County FSA office at 608-637-2183.