Who is covered?
Producers and their creditors and those directly affected by actions of the USDA.
What is covered?
John Deere Credit dispute; matter involving joint ownership of FSA\FLP loan security.
What is not covered?
When does a mediation request become a case?
A case needs two conflicting parties, voluntarily seeking facilitative mediation to solve a dispute. Mediators assist disputing parties in reaching mutually agreeable settlements of issues within the laws, regulations, and the agency’s generally applicable program policies and procedures.
Loan issue with a feed supply store
A farmer was buying his feed supplies from a store that offers lines of credit and ended up owing a couple of hundred dollars. Over time, interest was accruing on the principal and the farmer who was fairly getting by, was at a loss with paying the debt. The feed supply store was facing a dilemma: Either it continued to provide feed likely to result in an increase of the farmer’s debt; or it stopped providing feed to the farmer, but then the farm would be likely to fail. Either way, it was not clear how the farmer could pay back the debt.
The farmer was seeking help at FSA, where he was referred to CMCRI and requested Agricultural Mediation. During the mediation, there was no doubt that all parties had an interest in the farmer’s future success. Both parties discussed several options for restructuring the loans that would enable the farmer to pay back his entire debt, while still managing successfully his farm. Ultimately, the parties came to an agreement that worked for both the farmer’s and the feed supply store’s balance sheet.
Neighbors were concerned that their water supply may become contaminated, because a farmer was using pesticides close to the spring. The neighbors had spread their concerns in the neighborhood, so that the farmer was concerned about losing customers for his farm products. In the beginning, both parties intended to preserve good relations with each other, but the conflict escalated more and more, so that informal communications between the parties failed to result in an agreement on how to proceed.
Ultimately, the neighbors contacted CMCRI for help. The co-mediators worked with the parties to develop a settlement that solved the concerns of both parties.
Conflicts arising from a planned farm transition
When a family farm transition is planned, a variety of conflicts can occur, for example related to credit issues or the future farm management. Those disputes can be very challenging and mediators can help solve the conflict in a less stressful way. Mediators can aid with bringing all stakeholders (all involved family members and the lender) back on the same page and work through all those issues that matter to them (e.g. questions about possession, debt, equity and fairness between the family members).
It is beneficial for all parties to solve the conflict constructively early on to avoid the failure of the whole business. The agricultural mediation program has helped many families nationwide deal with these conflicts by guiding all mediation participants to focus on their interests and needs to finally resolve the matter in the best way possible for everyone.