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MARYLAND AGRICULTURAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION SERVICE. Mae C. Johnson Mediation Coordinator 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway Annapolis, MD 21401 Phone: 410-841-5778 E-mail : JohnsoMC@mda.state.md.us www.marylandacres.com. Mediation Options for Farmers and Producers. February 29, 2012

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  1. MARYLAND AGRICULTURAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION SERVICE Mae C. Johnson Mediation Coordinator 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway Annapolis, MD 21401 Phone: 410-841-5778 E-mail: JohnsoMC@mda.state.md.us www.marylandacres.com

  2. Mediation Options for Farmers and Producers February 29, 2012 Maryland Farmer’s Market Conference

  3. Objectives: • Increase understanding and awareness of the availability of MDA mediation services • Encourage the use of mediation and facilitation as an option for addressing agricultural related conflicts

  4. AGENDA • Opening/Introductions • Conflict Escalator • Conflict Resolution Options • Formal v. Informal • Recognition of Mediation Opportunities • Overview of Maryland ACReS • Sample wording offering mediation option • Questions • Closing/Evaluations

  5. Conflict Escalator Farm Service Agency issues adverse decision with appeal options Farmer does not Respond Farm Service Agency sends letter of Inquiry Farmer defaults on Farm Loan

  6. Dispute Resolution Options Informal • MDA Staff • MD Agricultural Extension • Mediation Pre-mediation (advisory) Counseling • Facilitation • Negotiation • Informal/advisory decisions Formal • State and federal litigation and appeals • Administrative hearings • Police intervention • Arbitration • Right to Farm Boards (other county boards/commissions)

  7. Overview Maryland ACReS

  8. WHAT IS THE AGRICULTURAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION SERVICE (ACRES)? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA ) Certified State Agricultural Mediation Program

  9. What is mediation? Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which a neutral person, who has received special training as a mediator, helps 2 or more parties mediation looks at the issues mediation helps to identify and consider all available options for resolution of a dispute.

  10. Concept of Mediation • Mediation is a valuable tool for settling disputes in many different areas. These include farm loans, farm and conservation programs, wetland determinations, rural water loan programs, grazing on national forest system lands, pesticides and Right to Farm issues.

  11. What is Mediated? • Unfavorable decisions made by USDA agencies • Conflicts between farmers and their neighbors • Agricultural credit issues • Family farm concerns and estate planning • Any dispute affecting the profitability of an agricultural operation


  13. Natural Resources and Conservation ServiceExample “If you disagree with or dispute the results of this contract review and the final program decision, NRCS provides you with the following opportunities to review the appeal or mediation: Informal review Mediation Appeal

  14. Farm Service AgencyExample If you believe that this decision is Erroneous, you have the following options: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mediation is available as part of FSA’s informal appeal process. Mediation may enable us to narrow the issues and resolve the matter by mutual agreement. Or Appeal

  15. Rural Development Loan ForeclosureExample NOTICE OFACCELERATION OF YOUR MORTGAGE LOAN AND NOTICE OF OPPORTUNITY CONCERNING THIS ACTION You may request mediation, prior to filing for an appeal, stays the 30 day appeal process.

  16. Crop Insurance DenialExample If you disagree with this determination, please refer to the time limitations and requirements set-forth in paragraph 20 of your policy, which provides, in part, as follows: 20. Mediation, Arbitration, Appeal, Reconsideration and Administrative and Judicial Review. (a) If you and we fail to agree on any determination made by us except those specified in Section 20 (d) or (e), the disagreement may be resolved through mediation in accordance section 20(g). If resolution cannot be reached through mediation, or you and we do not agree to mediate the agreement must be resolved through arbitration …..

  17. RIGHT TO FARM There is no specific example of how a Right- To-Farm concern may be presented. It usually involves an expression of continued conflict with a neighbors, public organization or government agencies.


  19. Recognition of Mediation Opportunities Can this case be mediated?

  20. CASE STUDY FSA LOAN The Farm Service Loan Officer was faced with a producer who was past due on a farm loan of approximately $50,000 as well as debts to two other creditors. The loan was shared by two brothers who owned the farm. One brother focused on the business operations and the other brother focused on production. The loan was headed toward foreclosure when the business brother requested mediation. Prior to the mediation, the Loan Officer only had contact with the brother concerned with the business operations. CAN THIS CASE BE MEDIATED? WHAT ARE OPTIONS FOR POSSIBLE OUTCOME?

  21. CASE STUDY MISSING CRP PAYMENT A farmer sold some land about 1-2 years ago. He worked on the contract to sale the land with the county FSA representative to ensure that everything was done properly so that he could receive his CRP payment. However, when he inquired about the payment he felt was due for CRP. He was told that that the person who purchased the land received the payments. He complained and requested payment. The FSA representative told him that he had tried but had not gotten a response from the Kansas City Management Office (the payment office). Things lingered on for two years. CAN THIS CASE BE MEDIATED? WHO ARE THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE MEDIATION? WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE MEDIATION? WHAT WOULD BE A POSSIBLE OUTCOME?

  22. CASE STUDY FAMILY Following the death of both parents, the farm property and assets were divided between four siblings – Brother A, B, C, and Sister D. One of the brothers, Brother A, elected to remain on the farm. The siblings all agreed that he could use the land that they were deeded for farming. However, in the last few months, the Brother C (who lived in California) had decided that his portion would be sold to a developer. Brother C felt that it was time for him to make some money. Brother A informed Brother C that he could not sell to a developer. Brother B and Sister D felt that Brother A was being unnecessarily controlling and after all he had not been providing them with any income from the farming activity. CAN THIS CASE BE MEDIATED? WHO SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE MEDIATION? WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE OUTCOME?


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