Helps the Farm Community Resolve Conflicts and Avoid Lawsuits
ANNAPOLIS - Farmers and others in the agricultural community who may be embroiled in nagging disputes with family members, neighbors, government agencies, or even lenders can get a fresh start in the new year by trying mediation through the Maryland Agricultural Conflict Resolution Service (Maryland ACRS). Maryland ACRS is a confidential, no- or low-cost service offered by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and is available to Marylanders to help resolve agricultural-related disputes before they end up in court.
"When problems related to agriculture end up in court, no one really wins," said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley. "The time and costs associated with lawsuits and litigation strain everyone's resources and often result in outcomes that satisfy no one. We hope farm operators will give our mediation service a try before a situation becomes unbearable or goes to court."
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has provided USDA-certified mediation services for eight years, through a program previously called Farm Sense, which will now be known as Maryland ACRS. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a neutral third party (the mediator) assists farmers, agricultural lenders, agencies, families and citizens to resolve disputes in a non-adversarial setting outside the traditional legal and regulatory processes. Mediation is based on the voluntary cooperation and participation of all the parties. Through the process, there is no finding of right or wrong and the mediator has no power to impose a solution.
Maryland ACRS has a roster of 24 skilled mediators trained to serve as non-adversarial, neutral, third parties to help resolve disputes. An initial consultation with program staff and initial mediation session is at no charge. If additional mediation sessions are needed, costs are shared by the parties. Full or partial waivers of fees may be available based on income.
For more information about Maryland ACRS or to request mediation services, log onto http://www.marylandacrs.org or contact Joanne Adams at 410-841-5778 or adamsjb (at) mda.state.md.us.
Source: Maryland Department of Agriculture