What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary, low-cost, non-adversarial process, in which a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates productive communication between the conflicting parties. Mediation provides a confidential setting that encourages individuals to take responsibility for solving their own conflicts and helps explore options to move forward. A successful mediation is almost always based on the voluntary cooperation and participation of all the parties and is likely to result in mutually satisfactory agreements. Agreements reached in mediation often meet the needs of all involved parties and are more likely to be upheld.
Mediation is NOT a determination of who is right or wrong, and the mediator is not a decision-maker.
What is Mediation?
An agricultural producer or an organization or individual with a dispute concerning agricultural production may request mediation by contacting their state program (check out the Certified States page to find your state’s program).
Our staff will confirm that the other party (or parties) are willing to participate in mediation. A brief description of the situation is gathered by the Mediation Coordinator to prepare a briefing report for the mediator.
Mediators are assigned by the Mediation Coordinator and all the parties are notified as to the date, time and neutral location of the mediation session.
Most mediation sessions will be concluded in one 2-3 hour session unless everyone agrees that more time is needed.
The Benefits of Mediation
Parties are able to devise creative solutions, often in less time, at less cost, and with greater satisfaction than through litigation. Because the parties craft a mutually acceptable solution together, mediation is often successful in producing high quality settlements and durable agreements, which help preserve on-going relationships between the parties. Mediation is:
You are encouraged to work together with the party you are in dispute with, to reach what you both agree to be the fairest and most viable agreement.
Mediation encourages better listening, communication, and mutual awareness between participants.
Mediation provides a better understanding of the issues that led to the dispute, then focuses on how both parties want to move forward rather than dwelling on the past.
You determine and craft the solution that works best for you, rather than having a judge or “expert” decide for you.
Mediation usually costs less in money, time, and emotional drain compared to hiring lawyers (and going to court), and saves the toll paid by everyone involved should the conflict continue unresolved.
You are able to keep your private matters private because mediators hold all mediation discussions and agreements in confidence, and cannot be compelled to testify should the matter go before a judge.
Satisfying & Durable
Based upon having actively resolved the conflict themselves, parties often feel satisfied about the process and the agreement. Personal pride and the likelihood of compliance are generally elevated through mediation.
Mediation is not a determination of who is right and wrong, and the mediator is not a judge, fact-finder, or decision-maker. Mediators do not give legal advice. Choosing to mediate does not preclude you from your right to try other options such as litigation or arbitration.
The Cost of Mediation
Mediation is available at little or no cost to farmers and USDA clients in certified states for select types of conflicts. Mediation services for agricultural loans, agricultural credit, farm program compliance, and other agricultural related issues are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through grants to the certified state programs. Mediation for other types of conflicts may be available as well – please contact your state program for more information.
USDA agencies issuing an adverse determination offer the option to mediate. Additionally, mediation may be requested for agricultural credit issues by borrowers or their creditors. Contact your state program if you are interested in exploring the option to mediate!