By Laura Hardie on behalf of the Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program (VTAMP)
As a dairy farmer, you know what it’s like to face shortfalls. It’s not just about the price of milk. Changes in vendors, a bad harvest year, the rising cost of goods, or an unexpected equipment replacement can make things tight. After how hard you’ve worked, you want to enjoy the rewards of farming, not feel constantly stressed. Whatever your situation is, mediation can help get you back on track. In addition to financial challenges, mediation can help with farm transitions, farmer/neighbor conflicts, leases and other issues.
Although every situation is different, mediators work with many dairy farms who have fallen behind on farm loans or have debts to creditors, such as feed dealers. Mediators work with both parties to find a mutually acceptable solution. Those solutions can include restructuring farm loans with lenders or reaching installment payment plans with creditors.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal process where parties meet with a neutral person (mediator) who helps them negotiate their differences. Mediators don’t decide who is legally right or wrong nor will they tell you what to do. Mediation leaves the decision-making power totally and strictly with the parties. Mediators with expertise in agricultural issues are available for free in states throughout the Northeast.
Ag mediators know how stressful these situations can be, so they do everything they can to make them as easy as possible. Typical mediations last approximately three hours. Some take less, and others may require multiple sessions, depending on the complexity of the issues and the number of participants. Most people turn to mediation only after trying to resolve the issues on their own. Even when you’ve tried everything to fix the problem, mediation can often be successful.
Recent data from the American Arbitration Association show success rates as high as 85 percent when mediation is tried before resorting to arbitration, litigation, or some other dispute resolution method.
And because services are free, there’s no reason not to reach out if you need help. Find your state in the list below to get started. Know someone who could benefit from mediation? Share this flyer about mediation services available for free to Northeast dairy farmers.
State Agricultural Mediation Programs
Connecticut Agricultural Mediation Program
Maine Agricultural Mediation Program