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Crop Insurance Mediation

Federal crop insurance policies provide avenues to address disagreements between policyholders and their approved insurance providers (AIP).

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential, and informal process where a neutral person assists parties in negotiating their differences. Mediators facilitate the discussion and help structure the process; they do not give legal advice or counseling and have no authority to decide the outcome.

If an agreement is reached in mediation, the terms will be written down and signed by both parties. Mediation can assist the parties to create their own mutually agreed upon resolution within the terms of the regulations and procedures governing the Federal crop insurance program in a non-adversarial setting, thus saving time, expense, and emotional stress by avoiding the process of formal appeals or litigation.

Reasons to Try Mediation/Advantages

  1. Mediation can be fast; decisions are made rapidly by involved parties, streamlining government involvement.
  2. Mediation is confidential; however,if the parties reach an agreement and execute the agreement in writing, the agreement is considered a binding contract and can be enforced.
  3. Mediators are neutral. They do not make decisions; they help the parties find solutions.
  4. Voluntary participation builds mutual respect and understanding.
  5. Improved communication can preserve relationships and prevent future misunderstanding.

Crop Insurance Mediation Requirements

Federal crop insurance policies authorize the use of mediation to resolve disputes between producers and their AIPs. The Basic Provisions of the Common Crop Insurance Policy (Section 20), and similar provisions in other plans of insurance, contain information on requesting mediation with an insurance company.

Specifically, Section 20 states that if a producer disagrees with a crop insurance determination, mediation may be used to resolve this dispute. Producers may also use mediation to resolve disputes for most RMA decisions. Mediation settlements cannot change or alter provisions of the Common Crop Insurance Policy or crop provisions, or the procedures promulgated thereunder. Mediation is not applicable to good farming practices determinations made by the AIP or RMA.

To resolve any dispute through mediation, both parties must:

1. Agree to mediate the dispute
2. Agree on a mediator; and
3. Be present or have a designated representative who has the authority to settle the case present, at the mediation.

If mediation is not used, or if mediation concludes without resolution, the dispute may be resolved through arbitration, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.

Certified State Mediation Programs

USDA's Certified State Agricultural Mediation Program is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Outreach Staff. Federal legislation encourages state involvement by providing matching grant funds to participating States. Currently, 34 States participate.

To find out about specific issues for which mediation is available within an individual State, please call or email a representative of the Agricultural Mediation Program of that State. States with certified mediation programs are:

States With Certified Mediation Programs

Alabama Maryland Oklahoma
Arizona Massachusetts       Rhode Island
Arkansas Michigan South Dakota
California       Minnesota Texas
Colorado Mississippi Utah
Florida Missouri Vermont
Illinois Nebraska Virginia
Indiana New Jersey Washington
Iowa New Mexico Wisconsin
Kansas New York Wyoming
Louisiana North Carolina
Maine North Dakota

For a map of States with USDA certified mediation programs and a list of State contacts, see the CAMP program Web site.

For States without certified mediation programs, the following organizations, among others, provide mediators and neutrals for various types of disputes:

For questions regarding States without certified mediation programs, please contact Donna Gibson at 202-720-2730 or email Donna Gibson.

Resources

Codified Federal Regulations

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Contact Information

For more information, contact Pam Bollinger.