MDA reminds farmers of extension to Farmer-Lender Mediation Program
The length of mediation available for Minnesota farmers in the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program has been extended from 90 to 150 days.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture wants to remind the state's farmers and ag lending institutions that the length of mediation available for farmers in the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program has been extended by the state legislature from 90 to 150 days.
“This is a critical program for farmers — especially now when COVID-19 has caused the closing of agricultural markets," said Thom Petersen, MDA ag commissioner. "Having sixty more days to renegotiate or restructure will be a huge help in many cases."
Minnesota farmers who are in debt can renegotiate, restructure or resolve farm debt through mandatory Farmer-Lender Mediation. Under mandatory mediation, creditors cannot collect a debt against an agricultural property until an offer of mediation has been extended. If a farmer chooses to do the mediation, creditors cannot collect a debt until it's completed.
In a press release by the Minnesota Farmers Union, the Farmer-Lender Mediation Program was called a "lifeline for farmers during times of economic hardship". MFU President Gary Wertish sent a letter in early April to the governor and attorney general, calling for an extension to the deadline of the program.
“Farmer-Lender Mediation has helped family farmers reach mutually beneficial agreements with lenders on financial plans since 1986," he said.
Wertish said that because of the "emotional nature of mediation", it’s best done in person, but the state's stay-at-home order prevented that from happening.
For more information on the program, farmers can contact the MDA’s Farm Advocate Program at www.mda.state.mn.us/farmadvocates , or the University of Minnesota Extension https://extension.umn.edu/get-help/farmer-lender-mediation .