WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT)- The Farm Service Agency is now taking nominations for their County Committee Elections, and they say that election may be more important than some of us realize.

FSA officials said those elected serve three-year terms in which they work with the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure fair representation of farmers and ranchers, especially when it comes to some of the unique challenges we face here in Eastern North Carolina.

“Your county committee is going to hear your concern, whether it’s an appeal or whether it should be a program concern, and they’re the ones that will be able to elevate it to the USDA,” said Leigh Anna Hester, the executive director of the FSA in Beaufort County.

Hester said county committees were authorized by Congress in the 1930s to allow for grassroots input of agricultural programs.

“We have various programs, from conservation to a price support loan, to a grain bin loan, all sorts of programs,” said Hester.

This is important when it comes to challenges farmers face here in Eastern North Carolina such as disaster relief.

“We want our current weather patterns and disasters that are happening, we want those types of things documented,” said Hester.

Mike Godley is a local farmer who also served on the committee for about nine years. He said he focused on emergency conservation programs.

“So there was emergency money for helping farmers to recover from those weather events. There was a limited number of opportunities for that to happen, but it took some push from the committee to bring in the information from all of the officials and stuff to make that happen,” said Godley.

Godley said as a local farmer, it’s very important to him who is elected.

“I want someone who has an interest to understand and do research and educate themselves beyond their own operation, to know the problems that don’t necessarily affect them,” said Godley.

Anyone can submit a nomination for the committee as long as the nominee meets all the requirements. Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 1st and elections will take place in November.

We have more information on how to nominate a candidate here.