Indiana is without a state executive committee for the Farm Service Agency, some 10 months into President Obama's first term. Politics are involved in these appointments at the state level.
"We're hoping to hear soon," says Julia Wickard, newly appointed state executive director for FSA. A Greenfield farmwife and cattle producer, Wickard left her post as executive director of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association to join FSA as its state leader in late summer.
According to Wickard, state FSA officials were asked for input by USDA Washington staffers earlier in the year as to who would make good candidates for state FSA committee posts. That input was provided, Wickard notes. Then it's up to the folk in Washington, D.C. to make final choices and send out an approved list. Once it's issued to Wickard, she and her staff have about 10 days to review the nominations and make sure there are no potential problems, before announcing the new committee names to the public.
The state FSA committee is important because it is the next 'court of appeal' in FSA disputes beyond the county level. After the state level, disputes can only be heard in Washington under a cumbersome appeal process. The state committee also ahs other tasks, which include making important decisions that affect state programs in situations where latitude is given to the states by FSA at the federal level.
Right now should a conflict or dispute arise within the state that would normally be decided by the state committee, it's forwarded to Wickard. As state FSA director, she's also the acting committee. And she's anxious for others to share in that responsibility!
"We do know that they seem to be announcing appointments state-by-state," she adds. We're hopeful that our name come sup on the list soon. All we can do is be patient until they get to Indiana."
Meanwhile, county committee elections are underway,. Make-up of country FSA committees ranges form 3 to 5 members, depending upon the size of the district being served. A rumor earlier this fall purported that the Obama administration was going to do away with county FSA committees, but that proved to be false. There will be county committees wherever there was one before, Wickard observes. Some counties were combined into bigger FSA units over the past decade.