State Mediation Program gets recertification

Farm Forum

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Mediation Program has just received recertification from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

Mediation is an alternative method of resolving agricultural disputes. The department is authorized to mediate these types of disputes: debtor/creditor, federal lands, oil and gas and water drainage. Certain areas in the Mediation Program are partially funded by a USDA grant.

“The Agricultural Mediation Program has been around since the 1980s; although it has evolved over the years and added additional areas to mediate,” says Terri LaBrie, finance and mediation administrator for the department. “Mediation is a great way to resolve disputes outside of the court system. It provides a neutral third party mediator to facilitate a resolution. It’s confidential and the fees are minimal compared to litigation. It wouldn’t be possible to provide this program without the federal grant.”

Mediation is mandatory for any agricultural credit dispute over $50,000. Mediation is voluntary for any credit dispute under $50,000. Mediation for the program areas of water drainage, federal lands and oil/gas are all voluntary.

“It’s important for our farmers and ranchers to know this program exists with harvest approaching and the continuation of low commodity prices,” says LaBrie. “Financial counseling services are also available for clients in mediation. This service is free and is an important tool when looking at options.”

Water Drainage Mediation has been added to the eligible areas the department can mediate. Any owner or administrator of property that has a surface or subsurface water drainage issue can request mediation. The process and benefits for all areas of mediation are very similar.

More information on the department’s Agricultural Mediation Program and any of the financial programs the department has to offer can be found at or by calling the Division of Ag Development at 605.773.5436.