CLINTON — Agriculture producers in Clinton County recently received ballots for the Dec. 4 Farm Service Agency county committee election. Clinton farmer Gary Burken is up against third-time seat seeker and Local Administrative Area 3 incumbent Curt Allen, of DeWitt.
Allen, reflecting on past duties, has signed off on grain facility operations, Conservation Reserve Program contracts and — more frequently — conservation compliance violations.
“(Violations of) perhaps conservation plans or their acres of grain storage facility loan. We have to hear if they want to remain in the program,” Allen said. “It’s up to us to make sure they are making a plan to correct the issues.”
The LAAs are broken into townships and producers working with a Farm Service Agency program and residing in Deep Creek, Elk River, Center, Eden, Camanche and Hampshire (North, East and South) townships are eligible to vote. There are three LAAs leaders in Clinton County, and they operate on a three-term (consecutive) limit. The LAAs delegate the implementation of FSA services, and ensure compliance as well as keep the state and agency informed on county FSA relations.
“They’re responsible for making sure it’s fair and equitable for producers in the county,” said Kris Koth, executive director at Clinton County FSA office in DeWitt, “...They’re like the grassroots organization, down to the county level, basically delegating administration to run FSA.”
Allen does see the benefit of the farmer’s view on the committee. He said it offers insight from the fields rather than in an office. If elected for his third term, he wants to focus on keeping local producers informed on highly erodible land plans.
“If they need to stay in touch with their conservation office, stay in compliance,” Allen said. “These are the most common problems, and many times it’s small infraction. It’s something that can be avoided if they stay in contact with NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).”
Burken was not available for comment.
By the local NRCS measure, there are 2,532 farmlands in Clinton County and 95 percent of them use services or participate in programs with the FSA. The FSA services agriculture producers in many ways: Farm Bill loans, conservation practices, energy and dairy margin protection among them.