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Fact Sheets

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July, 2003



Agricultural Mediation Program


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Mediation Program helps agricultural producers, their lenders, and other persons directly affected by the actions of USDA resolve disputes. Through mediation, a trained, impartial person (mediator) helps participants review their conflicts, identify options, and agree on solutions.

Mediation is a valuable tool for settling disputes in many different USDA program areas. These include farm loans, farm and conservation programs, wetland determinations, rural water loan programs, grazing on national forest system lands, and pesticides. The program, reauthorized by the United States Grain Standards Act of 2000, is administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA).

How Mediation Works

Persons disputing USDA actions that directly affect them are offered the opportunity to request mediation services as part of the Department's informal appeals process. However, parties must request mediation before an appeals hearing is held with USDA's National Appeals Division. USDA customers may accept or decline the offer to participate in mediation.

If mediation is requested, FSA mediation officials suggest steps participants should take to prepare for mediation. Mediation officials then assign one or more mediators to the case. Participants may accept or eliminate these mediators. Once a mediator is accepted, all potential parties are advised that a mediation process is underway and given a chance to participate.

The mediator schedules a time and place to meet that is convenient to all parties. Mediation length can vary from a few hours to several days, depending on the complexity of issues and the number of participants. If an agreement is not reached, the case is closed and all parties remain free to pursue other available administrative appeals or legal actions.

Mediation services can also include counseling and financial analysis to prepare parties for the mediation session. These services are performed by USDA staff. In addition, many states provide mediation training and consultation services for producers, lenders, and USDA agencies.


Unlike a judge or arbiter, a mediator has no decision-making authority, but is there to help participants resolve problematic issues and settle disputes. Successful mediation is based on the cooperation and involvement of all participants.

Mediation Benefits for Lenders and Borrowers

Successful mediation benefits participants in the following ways:

  • Mediation may settle disputes within a participant's financial means, providing a low-cost alternative to appeals or to often expensive litigation and bankruptcy.

  • The program may reduce stress caused by lengthy litigation. While it can take years for a case to filter through the courts, mediation generally takes only a few meetings to complete.

  • The program has a high success rate of 73 percent and is well supported by government officials and community leaders.

  • Mediation is confidential. Documents are not used for any other legal action against the participants.

  • Mediators can also provide referrals for producers and lenders and informally discuss with them issues or concerns.

Mediation Cost to Participants

Some states charge mediation participants a nominal fee. As fee amounts vary from state to state, please check with your local FSA office.

State Mediation Program Contacts

Certain states have a certified mediation program. This means that, at the request of the Governor, FSA has helped the state develop a mediation program authorized or administered by a state government agency or by the Governor. When mediation services are needed in a non-certified state, FSA contracts with a reputable mediator in the general public. A list of certified states and their mediation contacts are provided below. If your state is not listed, please contact your local FSA office.


Lana M. Harms

Alabama Agricultural Mediation Program

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries

P.O. Box 1554

Montgomery, AL 35902-1554

Tel: (256) 927-3257 or voice mail (334) 240-7301 mail box #1000

Fax: (334) 240-7270



Eric Thor

Arizona Rural and Finance Training Program

Morrison School of Agribusiness and Resource Management

Arizona State University East

7001 E. Williams Road, Bldg. 40

Mesa, AZ 85212

Tel: (480) 727-1583 or cell phone (602) 320-4294

Fax: (480) 727-1211



Richard S. Johnston

Farm/Creditor Mediation Program

Arkansas Development Finance Authority

P.O. Box 8023

Little Rock, AR 72203

Tel: (501) 682-5895

Fax: (501) 682-5893



Carolyn Penny

Common Ground: Center for Cooperative Solutions

UC Davis Extension

1333 Research Park Dr.

Davis, CA 95616-4852

Tel: (530) 754-7060

Fax: (530) 754-5105



Mark Gallegos
Colorado Department of Agriculture

2331 West 31st Avenue

Denver, CO 80211

Tel: (303) 480-9236

Fax: (303) 480-9236



Larry Arrington

Florida Cooperative Extension Service

University of Florida

1038 McCarty Hall

Gainesville, FL 32611-0210

Tel: (352) 392-0582 or (352) 392-0412

Fax: (352) 392-0414



Suzanne McCorkle

Office of Conflict Management Services

Boise State University

1910 University Drive

Boise, ID 83725-1900

Tel: (208) 426-3776
Fax: (208) 426-4318



Alicia Hill Ruiz

Southern Illinois University School of Law104

Lesar Law Building

Carbondale, IL 62901

Tel: (618) 453-5181

Fax: (618) 453-8727


Linda Gray

Indiana Agricultural Mediation Program

Office of the Commissioner of Agriculture

150 W. Market Street

ISTA Center, Suite 414

Indianapolis, IN 46204

Tel: (317) 232-8770

Fax: (317) 232-1362



Michael L. Thompson

Iowa Mediation Services

6200 Aurora Ave., Suite 608W

Urbandale, IA 50322

Tel: (515) 331-8081

Fax: (515) 331-8085



Forrest Buhler

Kansas Agricultural Mediation Service

K-State Research & Extension

2A Edwards Hall

Manhattan, KS 66506

Tel: (785) 532-6958

Fax: (785) 532-6532



John K. Pierre

Louisiana State Agricultural Mediation Program

Southern University Law Center

P.O. Box 9294

Baton Rouge, LA 70813

Tel: (225) 771-4900 or (225) 925-2383

Fax: (225) 771-2474



Jane Storrs

Agricultural Mediation Program

Maryland State Department of Agriculture

50 Harry S. Truman Parkway

Annapolis, MD 21401

Tel: (410) 841-5770

Fax: (410) 841-5987



Susan M. Jeghelian

Executive Director

Massachusetts Office of Dispute Resolution

One Ashburton Place, Room 501

Boston, MA 02108

Tel: (617) 727-2224

Fax: (614) 727-6495



Laura Bassein

Michigan Agricultural Mediation Program

State Court Administrative Office

P.O. Box 30048

Lansing, MI 48909

Tel: (517) 373-4839

Fax: (517) 373-5748



Rodney B Hamer

Farmer Lender Mediation Program Director

467 Coffey Hall

1420 Eckles Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55108-6090

Phone: (612) 625-1782

Fax: (612) 625-1955



J. Chris Klenklen


Missouri Department of Agriculture

1616 Missouri Blvd., P.O. Box 630

Jefferson City, MO 65102

Tel: (573) 751-5514

Fax: (573) 751-5516



Marian Beethe

Nebraska State Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 94947

Lincoln, NE 68509-4947

Tel: (402) 471-2341 or (800) 446-4071

Fax: (402) 471-6876



Don Henderson

Deputy Commissioner

Nevada Department of Agriculture

350 Capitol Hill

Reno, NV 89502

Tel: (775) 684-5333

Fax: (775) 882-5121


New Jersey

David Kimmel

State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 330

Trenton, NJ 08625-0330

Tel: (609) 984-2504

Fax: (609) 633-2004


New Mexico

Patrick Sullivan

New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service

P.O. Box 3003, Department 3AE

Las Cruces, NM 88003

Tel: (505) 646-2433

Fax: (505) 646-3808


New York

Tom Buckner

NYS Unified Court System

State Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution Programs

98 Niver Street

Cohoes, NY 12047

Tel: (518) 238-2888 ext. 234 (Collins); ext. 238 (Buckner)

Fax: (518)238-2951


North Dakota

Jeff Knudson

North Dakota Agricultural Mediation Service

North Dakota Department of Agriculture

600 East Boulevard, 6th Floor

Bismarck, ND 58505

Tel: (701) 328-4769 or 328-2231

Fax: (701) 328-4567



Mac McCrory


Institute for Issues Management & ADR

Oklahoma State University

2302 W. 7th Street

Stillwater, OK 74074

Tel: (800) 248-5465 or (405) 744-6477

Fax: (405) 377-1048


South Dakota

Shanon Nowell

South Dakota Agricultural Development

Joe Foss Building, 523 E. Capitol

Pierre, SD 57501-3182

Tel: (605) 773-5436 or (800) 228-5254

Fax: (605) 773-3481



D. Gene Valentini

Texas South Plains Association of Governments

Dispute Resolution Center

1323 58th Street, P.O. Box 3730

Lubbock, TX 79452-3730

Tel: (806) 762-8721 or (800) 858-1809

Fax: (806) 765-9544



Kyle R. Stephens

Deputy Commissioner

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

P.O. Box 146500

Salt Lake City, UT 84114

Tel: (801) 538-7102

Fax: (801) 538-7126




Mediator Director

Fulcum Institute905 W. Riverside, Suite 304

Spokane, WA 99201-1099

Tel and Fax: (509) 838-2799



Jo Ann Prust

Wisconsin State Farm Mediation and Arbitration

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture,

Trade and Consumer Protection

2811 Agriculture Drive

P.O. Box 8911

Madison, WI 53708

Tel: (608) 224-5052

Fax: (608) 5110 or 224-5111



Lucy Hansen

Wyoming Agriculture and Natural Resources Mediation Program

2219 Carey Avenue

Cheyenne, WY 82002-0100

Tel: (307) 777-7323

Fax: (307) 777-6593


National Office Contact

Chester A. Bailey

Farm Service Agency

USDA Agricultural Mediation Program


Stop 0511/Room 3716-S

1400 Independence Ave., SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-0511

Tel: (202) 720-1471 or (202) 720-7619 (OS)

Fax: (202) 690-0644 or (OS) 690-4727



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (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 USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C., 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice or TDD).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


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