What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process that helps disputing parties come together and have an open, honest and confidential discussion about the issues. A trained mediator helps the parties explore options that are available to them and find an end to the conflict through mutually agreed upon solutions. The mediator does not act as a judge, deciding who is right or wrong. The parties themselves control the result of the mediation and any agreement that is developed. Mediation is another tool to help agricultural producers and natural resource managers make wise decisions.
Who may apply for Mediation?
Producers, their creditors (as applicable), and other persons directly affected by actions of the USDA involving one or more of the following issues:
- Agricultural credit, including private lenders and creditors as well as FSA direct and guaranteed loans;
- Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) wetland determinations;
- Compliance with Farm Programs, including conservation programs;
- Rural Development water and waste loans;
- Grazing on National Forest System lands;
- USDA-related pesticide issues;
- Rural Development housing loans;
- Rural Development business loans; and
- Risk Management Agency crop insurance issues.
What is the cost of Mediation?
The cost of mediation is $25 per hour per party. You will be invoiced for services following the conclusion of mediation.
How does the process work?
- The party wishing to initiate mediation must submit the request in writing to Montana Department of Agriculture (the Department). It must include contact information for the party(s) with whom mediation is being sought.
- Upon receipt of the request for mediation, the Department will send a letter to the other party stating that mediation is being requested. the Department will also send a mediation form to be completed by the other party. This form requires a signature and that party either agrees to participate in mediation or rejects the request.
- If mediation is rejected or there is no response, the party requesting mediation will be notified.
- If mediation is requested, the Department will assign a mediator, notify all parties, and set the time and place for the mediation session.
- If a mediator is assigned to the case, that mediator will complete the mediation process in accordance with Montana and national standards for mediation practice and ethics.
- The mediator shall manage the mediation session; including keeping the parties informed of the process, working with the parties to find an acceptable time and place for the mediation if an extension is requested; and to facilitate communication between the parties in an effort to reach a positive solution to the issues that are important to the parties.
- If an agreement is reached, the mediator shall summarize the terms of the agreement and acquire signatures of all parties. Parties will receive a copy of the agreement.
- When mediation is closed, the parties will be invoiced for mediation.
- Provides a rapid time frame for decisions.
- Provides an opportunity to avoid costly litigation.
- Provides a confidential forum to discuss complex issues.
- Promotes fair solutions to both sides of the dispute.
- Provides alternative solutions to issues and problems.
- Provides mediators who are neutral facilitators only.
If you are not able to pay the $25 per hour fee for mediation services contact the Mediation Program Manager.