Maine Agricultural Mediation Program

hoophouse and woman farmer picking fresh produceBecause sometimes having a third party present can help a conversation move forward.

In this time of the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers and families are facing acute stress and immediate decision making. If the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program can be of any assistance, please contact us by phone, 207.581.3487 or email, maineagmediation@maine.edu or by completing this form. We can talk with you about priorities, goals, and decision making as you navigate changes in the future of the farm, immediate markets, and relationships with lenders. Helpful resources are also available from the Beginning Farmer Resource Network of Maine.

Specifically for Stress, Mental Health, and Well-Being

What is the Maine Agricultural Mediation Program?

Overview

The Maine Agricultural Mediation Program (MAMP) is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Mediation Program. We are one of 42 programs around the country and belong to the Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs.

The MAMP provides alternative dispute resolution through mediation to farmers, their lenders and others directly affected by the actions of certain USDA agencies, neighbor disputes, and workplace and family disagreements that affect the farm.

In mediation, a trained, impartial mediator helps participants. It is voluntary, confidential, and helps with resolving disagreements and difficult conversations. 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).

You can request mediation if you have a dispute or difficulty with:

  • agricultural loans, whether made by USDA or commercial lenders
  • disputes involving USDA actions on farm and conservation programs
  • wetland determinations
  • rural water loan programs
  • grazing on national forest system lands
  • pesticides
  • rural housing
  • business loans
  • family farm transition
  • lease issues, including land and equipment leases
  • neighbor disputes or disagreements (involving a farmer as one of the parties)
  • the National Organic Program as established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990
  • worker/employer disagreements

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 2020. Visit our training page for more information about upcoming trainings.

UPCOMING AGRICULTURAL MEDIATION TRAINING: Become an Agricultural Mediator with our 16-hour training for persons who have completed a 40-hour mediation training. The focus is on getting to know the USDA, FSA, covered issues, and concerns voiced by farmers in Maine. Training will be held online October 13, 15, 20, 22 from 9-1 each day. No charge. Email to register. Visit our training page for more information.

Partnership

Family & Community Mediation

We work in close partnership with Family and Community Mediation to provide training, mediation expertise, and case coordination for the MAMP.

Contact

Request a Mediation
phone – 207.581.3487
email – maineagmediation@maine.edu