- Education and Training: decision support system, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: land access, new enterprise development, whole farm planning
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, quality of life, land tenure
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
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.
Project objectives from proposal:
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.