The Right to Farm Program's informal conflict resolution process involves participation in the Agricultural Mediation Program.
The Right to Farm Program established this informal mediation process out of recognition that the formal complaint process can be adversarial and that there can be benefits to resolving matters in a less formal fashion, such as maintaining better relationships and preventing additional conflicts in the future.
The mediation program is coordinated by the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) and is offered to all participants free of charge. To use the mediation program, both parties must voluntary request mediation by completing a Request for Mediation form. Mediation is an alternative to the more lengthy public hearing process and should be requested before public hearings begin. Mediation is confidential and generally takes only a meeting or two to complete.
Each mediation session is facilitated by a trained, impartial mediator whose job is not to impose a solution but to rather facilitate discussion. The mediator helps disputing parties examine their mutual problems, identify and consider options, and determine if they can agree on a solution. Because the mediator has no decision-making authority, successful mediation is based on the voluntary participation and cooperation of all the parties.
In addition to helping resolve Right to Farm issues, the mediation program may also be used by farmers to help resolve disputes with USDA agencies.
Whenever a USDA agency such as the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), or Rural Development (RD) issues an adverse determination to a farmer, the USDA agency is required by law to offer mediation as one of the farmer's 'appeal right' options. A farmer's basic options include requesting reconsideration, requesting mediation, and filing a formal administrative appeal with the USDA National Appeals Division. Farmers interested in using mediation should request mediation prior to filing a formal appeal.
Farmers may also request mediation with a USDA agency at any time to address a conflict or issue they have with a USDA program, regardless of whether or not USDA has issued an adverse determination.
As with Right to Farm-related mediations, with USDA-related mediations the mediation process is confidential, generally takes only a meeting or two to complete, and can be an alternative to the lengthy appeals process. The program is offered to participants free of charge, and each mediation session is facilitated by a trained, impartial mediator. To use the program, a farmer must complete the USDA-related Request for Mediation form.
Mediation Request Forms
- For Right to Farm disputes
- For USDA Program disputes (e.g., ag credit disputes involving FSA
or conservation program disputes involving NRCS)
- USDA Agricultural Mediation Program homepage
- Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs (CAMP)
- Mediation Success Stories - finding common ground and achieving positive results