What Is Mediation?
- An informal process where parties meet with a neutral person (mediator) who helps them negotiate their differences.
- A voluntary and confidential alternative to traditional legal and regulatory processes.
- The mediator does not determine who is legally right or wrong nor will the mediator tell either party what to do.
- Mediation leaves the decision-making power totally and strictly with the parties.
Who Are The Mediators And What Do They Do?
Mediators on our roster are all highly trained and well regarded professionals in the dispute resolution field. Our mediators have specialized experience and training in the agricultural fields. Mediators work with all parties to:
- Eliminate communication obstacles
- Facilitate a calm and rational discussion
- Identify and clarify the issues
- Explore options
- Record agreements
Advantages Of Mediation
Mediation works because the process:
- Informal and impartial
- Encourages open discussion
- Helps parties create their own solutions
- Restores communication between disputing parties
- Preserves and enhances important business relationships
- May save all parties time and money as compared to litigation
- Has fewer implementation issues since the parties agree to all terms
What Is A Mediation Session Like?
We have created a video that includes information about mediation and a mock mediation session.
Mediation sessions begin with a joint session with all participants present. The purpose of the joint session is to define the issues and ascertain the interests and concerns of all parties.
The mediator begins by welcoming the participants, explaining how mediation works, and explaining the ground rules for the session. After introductory remarks, each participant has the opportunity to make a brief opening statement and provide their perspective on the problem.
Following the opening statements, there is generally a discussion to clarify the issues, consider the relevant information and data, and explore options. Sometimes, a joint session is followed by a private meeting between the mediator and each party. This allows each side to explain and enlarge upon their goals for the mediation in confidence. Depending on the nature of the dispute and the dynamics of the mediation session, the mediator may alternate between private and joint sessions until the parties have resolved their differences, decided to reconvene for additional sessions, or determined that further mediation is no longer constructive.
How Can Parties Make The Most Of A Mediation Session?
- Gather and organize the documents and paperwork
- Create a written time line with the events to be discussed
- If important information is missing, tell the mediator and see if they can help locate the necessary information
- Make copies of important documents and label the paperwork prior to the mediation so that its easier to use it during the mediation.
- Flag any documents that you do not want the other parties to see so that the mediator knows to keep the document confidential.
- Remember your point of view may be different from the other parties
- Be prepared to listen to what they have to say as well.
- It is common in mediation to come up with more creative, open and collaborative ways to resolve the problem than can be found in other forums such as in a courtroom or before a hearing officer.
- Keep an open mind about what might work to fix the problem.
- Try to encourage more ideas by not immediately saying “no” to a proposal.
- During the mediation, if you need time to think about about an issue, or would like to speak to an adviser whose opinion you value, you can do so.
- Think of the mediation session as a conversation between you and the other parties with the mediator there to ensure that the conversation is productive and that each of you has the opportunity to speak, reflect and work together to come up with joint solutions.
FAQ – Answers To Common Questions About Mediation
How can I request mediation?
If you want to request mediation fill out the Request for Mediation. You can also call EMC and speak with us directly.
What is the cost?
For issues covered under the USDA program, our services are at no cost to the participants. For other agricultural issues, if no other sources of funding are available, we may charge an administrative fee for the mediation. This fee is determined by a sliding scale. EMC will let you know in advance what the fee will be.
Who are the mediators?
All of the mediators on our roster have experience in agricultural mediation cases and have had extensive careers in mediation, several are lawyers, and many were raised in farm families.
Where will the mediation session be held?
We have mediators located throughout the state and meditations can be scheduled at a time and a place that works for all parties. We have mediated in state and federal offices, law firms, pastures, barns, and around kitchen tables throughout the state.
We already tried to resolve the dispute. How is mediation going to work?
Most parties turn to mediation only after trying to resolve the issues on their own. Even when parties have tried everything they can to fix the problem, mediation can often be successful. Mediators help by re-establishing communication between parties, clarifying the issues and managing the process so that people are able to get together and discuss the problems. The opportunity to sit down with a mediator often encourages parties to brainstorm broader solutions and talk about how to move forward.
Do I have to talk about my feelings?
The mediation process can sometimes surface lots of feelings as parties are trying to resolve issues that have, over time, created misunderstandings and ill will between them. More often than not we find that parties who have been angry at each other for a long time find some common ground and a way to re-connect with one another as business partners, neighbors, or community members.
This is just business. Why should I use mediation?
Parties report that mediation is effective because it allows parties to work together quickly and informally and may reduce the costs associated with litigation or formal agency review. Sometimes mediation focuses solely on making the best economic decision under the circumstances and has little to do with emotions or feelings. Each mediation is different and the circumstances of each case is unique. Ultimately, the goal of mediation is to end the conflict and creating tangible results.
Do I need a lawyer?
Before the mediation, the mediator will ask the participants who is going to be there and that way everyone is prepared for the event. In some cases, parties are already represented by attorneys, however, most of the time, we find that just the parties attend the mediation. Sometimes, parties arrange for an attorney to be available by phone and will consult with them during breaks at the mediation. We always encourage participants to have trusted advisers review any agreements prior to signing, for example, an attorney, financial adviser or accountant.
What happens if mediation doesn’t work?
Sometimes parties do not reach agreement on all of the issues they have come to discuss. If the parties cannot reach a complete agreement, it is possible to reach a partial agreement on some things and it is also possible that no agreement is reached. Once the mediation process has ended, parties can pursue other options that existed prior to the mediation. Attempting mediation does not prevent parties from trying other avenues of resolution.
How do I know mediation will help?
Mediation is not a solution for everyone, but in many cases, participants are able to resolve differences and come to agreements. Even in cases where no agreement was reached, participants often feel that they have a better understanding of the issues and are better prepared for the next step. For information about what people working with us say about the program, please read our testimonials.