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FSA accepting nominations for committee posts

Local Farm Service Agency offices are now accepting nominations of candidates for the 2009 county committee election. Eligible voters can nominate, by petition, candidates of their choice. Producers may also nominate themselves.

Nationwide, there are more than 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on Farm Service Agency county committees. Committees consist of three to five members who are elected by local agricultural producers.

Committee members make many important decisions regarding the local administration of commodity and price support programs, including eligibility for several conservation and disaster assistance programs.

Under the county committee election process, each county is divided into election districts known as local administrative areas. Each local administrative area has one representative serving on the county committee. Since the terms of county committee members are staggered, only one area conducts an election each year.

To be eligible to serve on the county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by Farm Service Agency. In addition, the candidate must be of legal voting age and considered an eligible voter in the area that will be holding an election.

To become a nominee, eligible individuals must complete and sign the nomination form. Nomination forms are available from any county Farm Service Agency office, or online at:

The deadline for submitting nominations is Aug. 3. Election ballots will be mailed by Nov. 6. Newly elected committee members and alternates will begin serving a three-year term on Jan. 1.

Foreigners must report land deals

Foreign investors who have purchased or sold agricultural land are required to report such transaction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency within 90 days of transaction.

Under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, any foreign person who either fails to report, or is late in reporting such transactions, could face a possible fine.

For reporting purposes, USDA defines agricultural land as any tract of land more than 10 acres in size and currently devoted to farming, ranching, forestry or timber production. Foreign investors who own or have an interest in 10 or fewer acres are not required to report such transactions unless annual proceeds for the sale of agricultural products from those acres exceed $1,000.

Data collected by USDA indicate that foreigners have consistently owned only about 1 percent of all U.S. agricultural land during the past two decades.

According to USDA's Economic Research Service, forestland accounted for 48 percent of all foreign holdings, pasture and non-cropped agricultural land represented 32 percent, cropland 17 percent, and non-agricultural land 3 percent.

Individuals and corporations from Canada hold the largest percentage of foreign-owned farmland and forestland, followed by Germany and the United Kingdom.

EQIP deadlineis June 30

Minnesota's organic farmers and those in transition to organic production will have until June 30 to sign up for a new program to help them adopt conservation practices.

Minnesota's Natural Resources Conservation Service is one of only a few in the nation to offer a two-week extension of the organic initiative sign-up deadline under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The program's organic initiative offers per-acre payments intended to help producers start or expand their use of production practices that offer conservation benefits. Such practices can include extended crop rotations, cover crops, pest and nutrient management planning, and managed grazing.

Payment rates vary by practice, which can range from $2.95 to $58 per acre.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.