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Certified Mediation Program


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Mediation Program makes grants to state-designated entities that provide alternative dispute resolution through mediation to agricultural producers, their lenders and others directly affected by the actions of certain USDA agencies. In mediation, a trained, impartial mediator helps participants review and discuss their conflicts, identify options to resolve disputes and agree on solutions. Mediation helps to avoid expensive and time-consuming administrative appeals and/or litigation.

The grants are administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Cases that may be mediated include, but are not limited to, agricultural loans, whether made by USDA or commercial lenders, and disputes involving USDA actions on farm and conservation programs, wetland determinations, rural water loan programs, grazing on national forest system lands, pesticides, rural housing and business loans, and crop insurance. For more information see “What can be Mediated” below.

Please access our FSA Certified Mediation Program Fact Sheet for more information and a list of Certified Mediation Programs.

How Mediation Works

Unlike a judge or arbitrator, the mediator has no decision making authority and is present only to help participants discuss and explore their issues in a useful, nonconfrontational manner. Successful mediation is based on the cooperation and involvement of all participants.

Mediation can be accomplished in one meeting or may take several sessions depending on the complexity of the 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 and/or legal action.

Mediation is confidential.

Mediation Benefits

Successful mediation benefits participants in the following ways:

  • Mediation may resolve disputes within a participant’s financial means, providing a low-cost alternative to appeals or often expensive litigation.
  • Mediation 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.

What can be Mediated

Mediation is available for:

  • Agricultural loans, regardless of whether the loans are made or guaranteed by USDA or made by a third party
  • Wetland determinations
  • Compliance with farm programs, conservation programs, and the National Organic Program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 Rural water loan programs
  • Grazing on National Forest System lands
  • Pesticides
  • Lease issues, including land leases and equipment leases
  • Family farm transition
  • Farmer-neighbor disputes
  • Such other issues as the Secretary or the head of the Department of Agriculture of each participating State considers appropriate for better serving the agricultural community and persons eligible for mediation.

In addition, Certified Mediation Programs may provide credit counseling prior to the initiation of any mediation involving the USDA, or unrelated to any ongoing dispute or mediation in which the USDA is a party.

Cost to Participant

Certified Mediation Programs may charge participants a nominal fee for mediation services. When mediation services are needed in a State that does not have a Certified Mediation Program, FSA contracts with a reputable mediator and there may be fees participants will be required to pay. If your State is not listed, please contact your local FSA office.