UMass Boston

Agricultural Mediation Program

Since 2002, MOPC has been providing a range of services for agricultural issues through its USDA-sponsored MA Agricultural Mediation Program. The Program helps resolve disputes involving farm loans, leasing issues, wetland determinations, conservation compliance, and more. The program promotes the use of mediation and offers mediation services as a tool to prevent or minimize escalation of conflicts and to resolve conflicts at the earliest possible stage.  

Agricultural Mediation 

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential, and flexible process in which a neutral mediator assists negotiations between two or more disputing parties. It is not a determination of who is right or wrong, and decision-making power lies with the parties. Through mediation, parties can 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. Mediation does not have to be an end point – there may be further exploration of rights and responsibilities through other processes. 

Requesting Mediation 

USDA agencies issuing an adverse determination offer the option of mediation to clients. Additionally, mediation for other issues involving agricultural producers can be requested by contacting MOPC. Where a borrower is appealing an adverse determination by the USDA, the borrower should request mediation immediately after receiving the notice of the adverse determination(s) to stay the period of appeal. 

Covered Issues 

Mediations involving covered issues are provided at little to no cost to producers, creditors, and other parties, as these services are mostly covered by grant funding.  

Issues involving USDA: 

  • Agricultural loans made by USDA or other commercial lenders 
  • Action on farm & conservation programs 
  • Wetland determinations 
  • Rural water loan programs 
  • Pesticides, rural housing, & business loans 
  • Crop insurance 

Other covered issues: 

  • Agricultural credit 
  • The National Organic Program 
  • Lease issues, including land and equipment 
  • Family farm transition 
  • Farm/neighbor disputes 
  • Farmers’ market conflicts
  • Farm/municipal conflicts
  • Farm/farmworker conflicts
  • Farm/customer conflicts
  • Farm/contractor conflicts
  • Agricultural cooperatives conflicts 

Other issues can be mediated at low cost through the program or affiliated community mediation centers.  

Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs (CAMP) 

To support the consistent high quality of the Agricultural Mediation Program, MOPC participates in CAMP, the national coalition of state-certified agricultural mediation programs. CAMP provides a structure for state-certified programs to share information and resources to help institutionalize best practices and build capacity within states.  

MOPC Contact 

Courtney Breese, Program Manager, or 617-287-4046 

Connect with participating community mediation centers: 

Other Resources 

For more information on CAMP, please visit the Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs Website 

For more information on the MA network of Community Mediation Centers see Resolution Massachusetts website: 

For information on legal services for the agricultural community, please visit the Legal Food Hub Website

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, genetic information, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD). 

To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.