Maine Agricultural Mediation Program

hoophouse and woman farmer picking fresh produceWhat is the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program?

Overview

The Maine Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) is part of the The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Mediation Program. MAMP provides alternative dispute resolution through mediation to agricultural producers, their lenders and others directly affected by the actions of certain USDA agencies.

In mediation, a trained, impartial mediator helps participants. In mediation, all parties will review and discuss their conflicts, identify options to resolve disputes and agree on solutions. Ideally, this process helps avoid expensive and time-consuming administrative appeals and/or litigation.

This grant is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Cases covered by the grants include agricultural loans, whether made by USDA or commercial lenders, and disputes involving USDA actions on farm and conservation programs, wetland determinations, rural water loan programs, grazing on national forest system lands, pesticides, rural housing and business loans, and crop insurance.

How Mediation Works

USDA program participants are offered the opportunity to request mediation prior to a formal administrative appeal. If this option is requested, MAMP will provide assistance to prepare participants for the mediation, which is held at a time and place convenient to all parties.

Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator has no decision-making authority and is present only to help participants discuss and explore their issues in a useful, non-confrontational manner. Successful mediation is based on the cooperation and involvement of all participants.

Mediation can be accomplished in one meeting or may take several sessions depending on the complexity of the issues and the number of participants. If an agreement is not reached, the case is closed and all parties remain free to pursue other available administrative appeals and/or legal action.

Mediation Benefits

Successful mediation benefits participants in the following ways:

  • Mediation may resolve disputes within a participant’s financial means, providing a low- cost alternative to appeals or often expensive litigation and bankruptcy;
  • The program may reduce stress caused by lengthy litigation. While it can take years for a case to filter through the courts, mediation generally takes only a few meetings to complete; and
  • Mediation is confidential. Documents are not used for any other legal action against the participants.

Cost to Participants

There may be no cost or a nominal fee for mediation.

Mediation Training

The MAMP also offers mediation training throughout the year in partnership with Family and Community Mediation. Specific training for mediators interested in helping USDA producers with mediation will be held in 2019.

Contact

To contact the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program, email maineagmediation@maine.edu.