South Dakota ag mediation now covers federal lands, oil-gas development

Farm Forum

The Legislature’s rules review committee gave final clearance on Nov. 12 to the state Agriculture Department offering voluntary mediation services for disputes over federal land and from oil and gas development.

The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association supports the expansions and accepts the rules as proposed, even though the group hoped some would go further in helping landowners, Executive Director Silvia Christen told the legislators.

“I think it is going to be a real benefit to the producers who have access to it,” Christen testified.

She said there could improvements, but it’s time to move ahead.

“To oppose it at this point would be counterproductive,” Christen said.

State law already provided for farm-loan mediation between creditors and borrowers. There are four counselors under contract.

The Legislature added oil-gas disputes and federal-land disputes to the program in 2013. The rules for implementing those new services didn’t get done last year, however, and Terri LaBrie started this year as the new director.

The department held a public hearing Sept. 9 on the proposed rules.

LaBrie said no one requested mediation for oil and gas development or for federal lands to this point. She told legislators that she expects demand to be “minimal” in any year.

“I would guess one or two, maybe,” LaBrie said.

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