The Alabama Agricultural Mediation Program (AAMP) is a USDA-certified state program that offers mediation services to Alabama agricultural farmers, their creditors, and USDA agencies.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a no-cost, voluntary, confidential, problem-solving process wherein an impartial third party (the mediator) helps those in need to resolve disputes by:
- Identifying and clarifying issues
- Exploring options
- Recording agreements
The mediator assists the parties in exploring the issues and solutions in order to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all parties. Agreement on a realistic plan of action is the desired end result. Thus, mediation can assist farmers in avoiding costly appeals and litigation.
How Do I Begin the Mediation Process?
Inquiries can be made as to the specific situations, and discussed with a program facilitator. Agricultural Mediation can be requested by either party to a conflict. If an adverse decision is rendered regarding USDA program participation, FSA, RD, and NRCS personnel will likely offer mediation in their letter of determination. Mediation can be requested any time there is a dispute or conflict between two or more parties. You may request mediation by contacting the Alabama Agricultural Mediation Program at (800) 642-7761 Ext. 7151 or 334-240-7151.
- Participants create and are responsible for their own agreements.
- All information is confidential to the fullest extent of the law.
- The sessions are informal and private.
- The time and cost required are much less than litigation.
- Mediation can preserve relationships and restore communication.
- Mediation provides a neutral setting to openly discuss sensitive issues.
- After a request is received by the Alabama Agricultural Mediation Program, participants are contacted by an AAMP representative.
- The representative acts as facilitator in gathering information and preparing the parties for a mediation session.
- A mediator is assigned by the Program Manager.
- All involved parties are notified of the date, time, and place of the session. The mediator is in charge of the session and will discuss ground rules.
- During the mediation session, all parties are given opportunity to make an opening statement of facts as they see them. They can also express their feelings about the situation at this time. This may be accomplished in a closed, confidential session with the mediator.
- Issues are further clarified and solutions are explored and reality tested. Bargaining and negotiations proceed, which may lead to a mutual agreement of the parties.
- Based upon the input, a written agreement is prepared by the mediator, and all parties sign their agreement.
What Happens If an Agreement is Not Reached?
If a solution is not reached, parties can retain their full set of options and appeals available prior to mediation.
Can the Mediator Make a Decision?
No. The mediator is not an arbitrator or judge. The agreement must be made by the parties involved. Mediators are trained to use conflict resolution skills to facilitate effective negotiation. The mediator leads and manages discussion as a neutral party without making decisions or judgments. The mediator insures that all participants in mediation get to speak and be heard, helps to define issues, emphasizes common goals, keeps discussion focused and moving forward, looks to all options, and reduces fault finding.
Who Pays for Mediation?
Currently, there is no charge for mediation services.