Leasing a farm can have a significant impact on a farmer’s ability to get started. Often whether a situation works out for the farmers and the landowner pair comes down to their ability to communicate well and resolve differences.
Mediators help define issues, emphasize common goals, keep conversations focused, facilitate the development of discussion and of options. NYSAMP currently mediates leases when there is a crisis or breakdown in farmer landowner relations. When both parties are willing to come to the table mediation has a high success rate. This project will offer mediation for maintaining communication rather than for addressing a crisis, to farmers and landowners in quarterly meetings. These case studies will allow us to gage the value of using mediation at the front end of a relationship.
In addition to the direct mediation services, this project will produce educational materials for training mediators in understanding farmer landowner needs and interests. This project will produce educational materials for the landowners and farmers to reflect on and review their current working relationships. These educational materials will be shared through NYSAMP and Land For Goods websites. Results of the pilot project will be shared widely through NYSAMP, Land For Good, Hudson Valley Farmlink (American Farmland Trust), and through Cornell Cooperative Extensions Beginner Farmer programing. In addition materials and results will be shared with the Coalition for Agricultural Mediation which has programs in 30 states.
Given our experience we know that mediation is useful for farmers and landowners when both parties are willing to work with a third party neutral during a crisis or conflict. Mediation is generally used as a conflict intervention tool for crisis.
A mediator’s skill can also be used proactively to help parties avoid or manage conflict. Mediators are trained to help parties discuss complex substantive issues, including those when emotions are high. They are experts in facilitating collaborative planning. This project delves into applying mediation as a preventative intervention pairing landlords and farmers with a mediator to facilitate dialogue in what we are terming lease mediation. Proactive lease mediation could be an effective support system for farmers and landowners to strengthen their partnership to work collaboratively and to address conflicts that will inevitably surface.
To date we are not too far behind from our initial timeline.
April to July
Recruited farmer/ landowner pairs in NY and NH
LFG- created webinar to train mediators in lease context and created discussion materials for farmers and for landowners
NYSAMP and LFG reviewed, trialed and revised materials
LFG materials completed
Mediator preparation and training with webinar with discussion session (7/12/17 -1
mediator, and 2 NYSAMP staff for review)
Mediator preparation and training with webinar with discussion session (9/26/17 -4 mediators)
Decided to include intake process with farmers and landowners meeting with mediators first separately
initial intakes and first mediation sessions
intakes and mediation sessions (detailed below)
To date all five farms participating have had intake sessions with their mediator. These sessions were an opportunity for the farmer/ farmer co-owners to speak with the mediator and share concerns and goals they have for the mediation sessions. In addition the mediator was able to review the Farmers Worksheet; Initial Questions.
Laurel Schulteis and Micah Witri: (date?)
Jeff Backer and David Viola: (date?)
Maggie Cheney, Angela Defelice and D. Rooney: 10/02/17
Aviva Tilson: 11/03/17
Jenny Parker, Aliyah Brandt, Lauren Jones: 11/03/17
To date all five participating landowner teams have had intake sessions with their mediator. These sessions were an opportunity for the land owners to speak with the mediator and share concerns and goals they have for the mediation sessions. In addition the mediator was able to review the Landowners Worksheet; Initial Questions.
Carol and Steve Sullivan and Rich Sullivan (date?)
Carl Wallman (date?)
Brooke Lehman and Gregg Osofsky: 10/05/17
Laura Sink: 10/30/17
Joanna Tipple: 11/03/17
To date three farmer/ landowner teams have had their first two facilitated mediation sessions.
Laurel Schulteis and Micah Witri (farmers) and Carol and Steve Sullivan and Rich Sullivan (landowners)
session one: 08/07/17
session two: 11/16/17
Jeff Backer and David Viola (farmers) and Carl Wallman (landowner)
session one: 10/05/17
session two: 11/28/17
Maggie Cheney, Angela Defelice and D. Rooney (farmers) and Brooke Lehman and Gregg Osofsky (landowners)
session one: 11/14/17
session two: 11/21/17
To date one farmer/landowner team has had its first facilitated mediation session.
Aviva Tilson (farmer) and Laura Sink (landowner)
session one: 12/4/17
To date one more farmer/landowner have first session scheduled.
Jenny Parker, Aliyah Brandt, Lauren Jones (farmers) and Joanna Tipple (landowner)
session one: 01/08/18
In total their have been ten initial meetings (intake sessions) and seven mediation sessions. The remaining thirteen mediation sessions will be scheduled in 2018 with the majority of the sessions occurring during the winter.
We expect to catch up with our mediation sessions over the winter. The fall was not a convenient time for some of the farmers to get started. We also decided to include a more elaborate intake process then we initially outlined in the proposal.
Initial observations are that the groups are addressing tensions and coming up with some mutual solutions that seem productive. We have seen one very tense situation have a very positive turn around with the facilitated conversations. It is still too early to consider the effects of the groups working with a mediator but their is initial enthusiasm by participating farmers.
It is too early at this point to make any conclusions.
Education & Outreach Activities and Participation Summary
Land For Good Producer two worksheets. These were given to the five participating farmers and their corresponding landowners to prepare for an initial intake sessions.
1.) Towards, Quality, Durable Farm Leases- Initial Questions for Farmers
2.) Towards Quality, Durable Farm Leases- Initial Questions for Landowners
Land For Good produced Webinar in Land Lease to help mediators working in this pilot project understand the context. To date four mediators, working on the pilot project attended a two hour webinar session.
FarmNet Presentations 8/15/2017 and 8/17/17 : Included 15 minutes about Lease Mediation and our SARE Pilot Project to forty Farm Net consultants working throughout NYS during a one hour presentation on New York State Agricultural Mediation Program
NYS Ag. Mediation Project presented a Down to Earth Workshop on 10/25/17 in Hudson NY through Columbia Land Conservancy.The presentation included a power point on lease mediation and an overview of the SARE Lease Mediation Pilot Project.
CLC’s description: Small conflicts can become bigger rifts between landowners and farmers. Agricultural mediation can empower both parties to find an inexpensive and lasting solution. Experts will help us understand the mediation process and how many conflicts can be avoided altogether.
not yet available
results not yet available
results not yet available