March 19, 2010
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Agricultural Credit Act of 2009, approved for consideration earlier this month by the House Agriculture Committee.
The Agricultural Credit Act of 2009 (H.R. 3509) would reauthorize funding for the USDA’s State Agricultural Mediation Program, which administers grants for certified state agricultural mediation programs. These programs help agricultural producers, lenders and various USDA agencies resolve disputes outside of the traditional process of litigation, appeals, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.
“Like most of the country, the agriculture sector is currently experiencing increased financial stress, which has created a greater need for the service of the agriculture mediator program. This program provides our farmers and ranchers with a voluntary and low cost service to mediate disputes that may arise between their creditors, or to address adverse decisions with USDA,” said Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), who was an original co-sponsor of the act. Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) is the lead sponsor of H.R. 3509, which has attracted bipartisan support.
State agricultural mediation programs offer many benefits, including providing a confidential forum for addressing disputes, building strong working relationships between participants, and streamlining the decision making process. The Coalition of Agriculture Mediation Programs (CAMP) offers a useful summary of additional benefits, components and background information for these programs.