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Agricultural News

Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program Offered Free of Cost to Agriculture Community

Wed, 10 Aug 2022 13:06:26 CDT

Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program Offered Free of Cost to Agriculture Community Associate Farm Editor, Reagan Calk, sat down with the Operations and Communications Manager for the Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program, Cheyenne Sparks, and talked about the services the program has to offer and who can utilize those services.

“Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program facilitates mediations across all 77 counties of Oklahoma,” Sparks said. “Anybody that is in agriculture, whether you are a lender, you are a producer, you work contract, you have fence line disputes, or family farm transitions, if you are in agriculture in any kind of conflict, we are here to help.”

Sparks said mediation is a voluntary, no-charge service offered to ensure the conversation keeps going.

“We want to make sure everybody gets to that agreement they are looking for,” Sparks said. “If you aren’t able to come to an agreement, at least you have more knowledge of the situation and you are able to continue on and make sure that you are not losing funding, you are not losing time, and you are not losing relationships in your agricultural practice.”

For individuals interested in mediation, Sparks said they come to you.

“We want to make sure it is as no charge as possible, so we are going to go wherever you are,” Sparks said. “Whether you are in Hollis or Miami, we are going to come to you.”

Typically, Sparks said mediation takes place in an unbiased location.

“So that could be your local library or local courthouse,” Sparks said. “We also are housed at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, so you could come to our offices and meditate there.”

Due to COVID, Sparks said they began offering virtual mediation sessions, so for those who are unable to attend in person, that service is provided for anybody who is looking to do that from home.

“When you start mediation, we will contact you,” Sparks said. “You call us to request mediation and we will contact you about scheduling and then we will get everything on the books and contact all parties involved so that they are able to come together to come to an agreement.”

Being a voluntary service, Sparks said people are not obligated to participate in mediation.

“So, say you contacted us about a fence line dispute and your neighbor doesn’t want to come to the mediation session, at least now you have documentation proving that you attempted mediation so if you have to go into appeals and litigation, which we hope you don’t, but if you do, you will have the documentation showing that you did try to facilitate conversation.”

For USDA mediations, Sparks said there is a 30-day time period, but all non-USDA discrepancies have no time frame.

“If you get a discrepancy letter from the USDA saying that you are denied into a program and you have a loan discrepancy that they are accelerating, you have 30 days from the time that they issued that letter to contact us,” Sparks said. “Inside of those 30 days, you can call us, email us, or any way that is most comfortable for you to request mediation. That is only for USDA though, so if you have a fence line dispute, a contract dispute with a non-USDA agency, or a family farm transition, there is no time frame on those requests.”

To visit the Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program website, click here.

To contact for more information, email mediation@ag.ok.gov or call 405-521-3934 .

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Cheyenne Sparks on the Oklahoma Ag Mediation Program.



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