The following are stories of successful agricultural mediations (names of mediation participants have been withheld to maintain our commitment to confidentiality):
ODOR COMPLAINT: A DAIRY FARMER AND HIS NEIGHBOR
A dairy farmer and his neighbor were in a dispute over manure storage and spreading. The neighbor was upset about the odor. The farmer was angry that the neighbor had complained to other neighbors, the police, several town and state officials instead of coming to him. After a two–hour mediation, the farmer agreed to give notice and change the timing of his manure spreading and other farm practices. The neighbor gained an understanding of farm work and practices, financial pressures, and the farmer’s contributions to the community. As a result of mediation, both were able to come to an agreement that ended their battle over manure. They also made a plan for handling any future complaints.
A couple who owned a greenhouse and farm stand business decided to separate. Although their disagreements were intense at times, both were committed to their three children, and wanted to avoid the high costs and horror stories they heard about litigated divorce. They discovered that they could talk more calmly and productively with their mediator, get the advice they needed from financial, legal and other advisors, and make workable plans for the family business. Now, both are active in their children’s lives, and they can make plans together for the kids without fighting.
FAMILY MEDIATION: SUCCESSION PLANNING
A farmer leased 200 acres to give his parents some income and security. He subleased the land to a neighbor. In applying for a new FSA loan, he realized the full extent of the family debt crisis. After an initial adverse decision, he met with the loan officer, local bank manager, financial advisors, family members (who had serious disagreements) and a mediator. After a couple of meetings, the family realized they would have to work together to keep the farm, and were able to work out a plan to restructure the debts. Today the farm is profitable again and, thanks to the FSA loan, they were even able to expand production.