Farm mediation for financial difficulties

A slump in the ag economy often creates hardships on the farm. And when there is a debt to be paid for things like machinery, equipment, and land notes, it can create tension between borrowers and creditors.  If a debt owed is 20-thousand-dollars or more, farm mediation can bring both sides together in a confidential, neutral environment to create a plan and settle the financial issues.

Kiley Fleming is the executive director of the Iowa Mediation Service. She says anyone who can help bring resolution to the problem on both sides should be at the table.

"That is going to be the borrower, and the borrower could also decide to include spouses, siblings, parents, anybody that will help them in that process. And, it could be attorneys, financial planners," says Fleming. "And then on the creditors side, it could be a loan officer, it could be somebody with some lending authority, it could be their attorney, it could be accountants."

The mediator’s job is to help construct a mutually-beneficial plan – but not solve the issue. 

"Our job is to be a neutral facilitator, so they are going to own the process and the outcome," she says. "We are there to help facilitate the conversations, because at the end of the day, we aren’t the ones that live with the outcome. So, we truly aren’t the problem solvers, we want them to be the problem solvers, but we’re going to help get them the platform and the tools to do that."

Fleming says their goal is to try and keep borrowers and creditors out of the court system, and avoid a long, draining, costly process.

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