Expansion of USDA Mediation Services for NH and VT Farmers

The Agricultural Mediation Programs in Vermont and New Hampshire recently expanded the list of approved issues that qualify for free mediation to include easements, contracts, and labor issues.

“Farmers and other agricultural businesses in these situations find themselves in disputes with landowners, employees, or other entities,” Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program (VTAMP) Director, Matt Strassberg said. “Both sides often try everything to fix the problem on their own but aren’t able to make the progress they hoped for.”

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process where an impartial person (mediator) helps parties resolve their differences and negotiate agreements. The programs are supported by the USDA and the departments of agriculture in each state.

Recent data from the organizations show success rates of over 80% when mediation is tried before resorting to arbitration, litigation, or some other dispute resolution method.

“Farming is a round-the-clock demanding job. By nature, farmers are highly resourceful and skilled at solving problems. Yet we’re seeing an increase in complex disputes that leave farmers feeling stretched thin,” Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts said. “This service is a lifeline that helps farmers get back to doing what they love.”

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