Crossing the Bridge: Frequently Asked Questions
Mediation can be a complex and intimidating process, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some frequently asked questions about the mediation process.
Who may participate in Mediation?
Mediation and arbitration is available through the Wisconsin Farm Center, providing one of the parties in the dispute is a Wisconsin farmer, Wis. Stat. §102.04(3). Disputes that can be handled by the program include creditor-debtor, USDA program benefits, contractual, nuisance, environmental, and farm transfer.
Why should I participate in Mediation?
Most disputes arise because of communication problems. The goal of mediation is to help you resolve your issues by creating an environment that encourages communication.
Mediation provides an alternative available to the court system for solutions. Litigation can be expensive and time consuming, and generally produces win-lose solutions which you may not want.
The Farm Mediation and Arbitration Program provides an accessible forum that produces win-win solutions for farm related disputes.
Do I need an attorney?
Mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. All participants are encouraged to review preliminary agreements with counsel to understand legal ramifications, including possible tax consequences. It is not anticipated that attorneys will be present during actual mediation sessions unless requested by both parties.
What happens if a solution is reached? What happens if a solution is not reached?
When an agreement is reached; the mediator will prepare the Memorandum of Agreement pursuant to Wis. Stat. §93.50. This is a written document that states the duties of the parties in order to complete the agreement. Both parties must sign the memorandum and have the contractual obligation to adhere to its terms, according to Wis. Stat. §93.50(3)(g).
When an agreement is not reached, the case proceeds to court or is concluded without any resolution. It is possible that mediation can move to arbitration if the parties agree to take such action.
Is the agreement in mediation legally binding?
Yes. Upon the conditions of the agreement having been satisfied, the agreement becomes a legally binding contract between all parties who signed the agreement. Wis. Stat. §93.50(3)(g) provides that the parties have full responsibility for enforcement of any agreement reached in mediation.
How long will the process take?
Mediation is an effective process for resolving a conflict. The entire mediation process can range from one session of an hour or two to multiple sessions over a longer time frame. In almost every situation, mediation saves time when compared to litigation.
Is there a fee?
There is no fee for services provided by this program.
When can I request Farm Mediation?
Mediation can be requested at any time or is referred by a court during trial.
How do I get involved?
Contact the Wisconsin Farm Mediation and Arbitration Program and ask for a mediation request form. Call, write, or e-mail:
Wisconsin Farm Center
P.O. Box 8911
Madison, WI 53708
Phone: (608) 224-5138
Toll Free: (800) 942-2474