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 AgMed Program helps resolve disputes, involving farm loans, price support payments, wetland determinations, conservation compliance, and conservation. The program promotes the use of mediation as a tool to prevent or minimize escalation of conflicts and to resolve conflicts at the earliest possible stage. In partnership with the MA Dept. of Agriculture (DAR) and other agricultural organizations, MOPC provides outreach and mediation services, conflict resolution training and support to municipal Agricultural Commissions appointed as town standing committees to help sustain the community’s farm businesses and farmlands. MOPC teaches commissioners how to prevent and manage conflict effectively, and provides access to professional mediators if they are not able to resolve the conflicts themselves.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential, and flexible process in which a neutral mediator assists negotiations between two or more disputing parties. Agreements reached in mediation often meet the needs of all involved parties and are more likely to be upheld.
Mediation is NOT a determination of who is right or wrong, and the mediator is not a decision-maker. Mediation is not an end point – other rights, responsibilities, and options are still available.
Benefits of Mediation
Parties are able to 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 between the parties.
USDA agencies issuing an adverse determination offer the option of mediation and must participate in mediation if requested. Additionally, mediation may be requested for agricultural credit issues by borrowers or their creditors when a borrower is delinquent or is at risk of becoming delinquent.
Efforts will be made to schedule a mediation session within 30 days of a request or as soon as possible.
Early mediation may prevent potential difficulties or adverse determinations.
Note re: Time of Appeals: 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) in order to stay the period of appeal
Cost of Mediation
Mediation is available at little or no cost to the Massachusetts farming community. Mediation services for agricultural loans, agricultural credit, farm program compliance, and other agricultural related issues are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through a grant to MOPC.
For more information:
Call 617-287-4040 or 1-888-869-1898
Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs (CAMP)
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.
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.