California Agricultural Mediation Program

About CALAMP

The California Agricultural Mediation Program (CALAMP) is the official United States Department of Agriculture certified agricultural mediation program for California. CALAMP’s services are free to the agricultural community on many issues. Mediation is a way to resolve disputes using an impartial person to assist parties negotiate their differences. For additional background information about mediation; click here.

Haga clic aquí para ver el folleto de CALAMP en español.

Click here to view the Spanish-language CALAMP brochure.

The California Agricultural Mediation Program provides free mediation services to the agricultural community on many issues. Mediation is an informal and fast way to resolve problems and I encourage you to contact them if you need assistance. The program is certified by CDFA and USDA.

—Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary

  • What Kinds Of Agricultural Disputes Can Be Mediated?
    • Adverse Decisions from USDA agencies
    • Compliance Issues with USDA Farm and Conservation Programs
    • Farm and Rural Development Loans
    • Farm Credit/Debt Issues
    • Wetlands Determinations
    • Crop Insurance
    • Pesticide Issues
    • Other Agricultural Disputes

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

 

CALAMP provides free mediation services to the agricultural community in California on the issues listed above. For other agricultural issues, CALAMP will provide the mediation services free of charge when other funding sources are available. In some cases, CALAMP may ask parties to pay based on a sliding scale.

Steps To Request Mediation Through CALAMP

  1. Fill out the Request for Mediation form below.
  2. CALAMP staff will confirm that the other party (or parties) is willing to participate in the mediation.
  3. CALAMP staff will conduct brief confidential interviews to learn background information about the dispute.
  4. CALAMP will assign a mediator from the Agricultural Mediation Roster or CALAMP staff based on subject matter expertise, geography, and availability.
  5. The mediator will contact the parties to arrange a date, time and location for the mediation session.

Request For Mediation Form

Please complete the form below to request mediation from the California Agricultural Mediation Program. If you would rather print the form and mail it to us; click here. Once your request has been received we will review your information and contact you.

 

You’ll also need to fill-out and submit the CALAMP Release Form.

View the December 2016 Newsletter
View the Autumn 2016 Newsletter
View the Spring 2016 Newsletter
  • Although most people think they know something about mediation, it remains a mysterious process to some. Often, people talk about mediation, arbitration, and negotiation almost interchangeably. Sometimes, others may confuse mediation and meditation. Mediation is the use of an impartial person (the m...

January 28, 2016: Planting Seeds – Food & Farming News From CDFA

California Agricultural Mediation Program a new resource to help farmers resolve problems

January, 2016: Community Alliance With Family Farmers (CAFF) Names CALAMP A Featured Partner

http://www.caff.org/news-and-events/enews/partner/

What Is Mediation?

  • An informal process where parties meet with a neutral person who helps them in the negotiation of their differences.
  • It is a voluntary and confidential alternative to traditional legal and regulatory processes.
  • The mediator does not determine who is legally right or wrong nor will the mediator tell either party what to do.
  • Mediation leaves the decision-making power totally and strictly with the parties.

Who Are The Mediators And What Do They Do?

Mediators on our roster are all highly trained and well regarded professionals in the dispute resolution field. Our mediators have specialized experience and training in the agricultural fields. Mediators work with all parties to:

  • Eliminate communication obstacles
  • Facilitate a calm and rational discussion
  • Identify and clarify the issues
  • Explore options
  • Record agreements

Advantages Of Mediation

Mediation works because the process:

  • Is informal and impartial
  • Encourages open discussion
  • Helps the parties create their own solutions
  • Restores communication between disputing parties
  • Preserves and enhances important business relationships
  • May save all parties time and money as compared to litigation
  • Has fewer implementation issues since the parties agree to all terms

What Is A Mediation Session Like?

We have created a video that includes information about mediation and a mock mediation session. To view the video visit the New Hampshire or Vermont program page.

 

Mediation sessions begin with a joint session with all participants present. The purpose of the joint session is to define the issues and ascertain the interests and concerns of all parties. The mediator begins by welcoming the participants, explaining how mediation works, and explaining the ground rules for the session. After introductory remarks, each participant has the opportunity to make a brief opening statement and provide their perspective on the problem.

 

Following the opening statements, there is generally a discussion to clarify the issues, consider the relevant information and data, and explore options. Sometimes, a joint session is followed by a private meeting between the mediator and each party. This allows each side to explain and enlarge upon their goals for the mediation in confidence. Depending on the nature of the dispute and the dynamics of the mediation session, the mediator may alternate between private and joint sessions until the parties have resolved their differences, decided to reconvene for additional sessions, or determined that further mediation is no longer constructive.

How Can Parties Make The Most Of A Mediation Session?

  • Gather and organize the documents and paperwork
  • Create a written time line with the events to be discussed
  • If important information is missing, tell the mediator and see if they can help locate the necessary information
  • Make copies of important documents and label the paperwork prior to the mediation so that its easier to use it during the mediation.
  • Flag any documents that you do not want the other parties to see so that the mediator knows to keep the document confidential.
  • Remember your point of view may be different from the other parties
  • Be prepared to listen to what they have to say as well.
  • It is common in mediation to come up with more creative, open and collaborative ways to resolve the problem than can be found in other forums such as in a courtroom or before a hearing officer.
  • Keep an open mind about what might work to fix the problem.
  • Try to encourage more ideas by not immediately saying “no” to a proposal.
  • During the mediation, if you need time to think about about an issue, or would like to speak to an adviser whose opinion you value, you can do so.
  • Think of the mediation session as a conversation between you and the other parties with the mediator there to ensure that the conversation is productive and that each of you has the opportunity to speak, reflect and work together to come up with joint solutions.

Matt Strassberg, Director

Matt is the director of the Environmental Mediation Center and the administrator of the EMC’s agricultural mediation programs. He is an attorney and mediator with over thirty years of experience in environmental law and mediation. He was the founding director of Green Mountain Environmental Resolutions, a dispute resolution firm focused on developing collaborative solutions to environmental and land use disputes. He is also a senior consultant with the Consensus Building Institute. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs and is listed on the roster of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

Mary Campbell, Program Coordinator and Mediator

Mary Madison Campbell is an attorney and mediator in the high desert region of Southern California. With over a decade of experience in conflict resolution, Mary’s focus is supporting families in transition, estate planning and agricultural/environmental dispute resolution. In addition to her mediation and law practice, Mary is a teacher for University of California Extension’s Conflict Resolution Certificate Program. Mary teaches Introduction to Mediation, Facilitation and Community Engagement, and she previously taught Managing Community Conflict and a Theory-to-Practice seminar. Mary has not only mediated, but has also worked with organizations and community groups to address larger-scale issues such as addressing regional environmental impacts, climate change and commercial fishing. She has worked with five community-based mediation centers in Maryland and California, mediating everything from family disputes to criminal charges. She also spent six years working with and writing about environmental and commercial fishing issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay. Mary also spent a year after law school as a farmer and Buddhist monk. Mary earned her Bachelor of Arts from DePauw University and her Juris Doctor from the Martin Luther King School of Law at the University of California at Davis, where she also completed a certificate in Public Interest Law.

Julia Rose Golomb, Program Coordinator and Mediator

Julia Rose Golomb is a mediator and facilitator with expertise in water, agriculture and food systems. Julia’s mediation practice focuses on environmental planning, resource management, and environmental justice. She is an Associate with the Consensus Building Institute and holds a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Julia served as a Teaching Fellow for the following Yale graduate-level and undergraduate courses: Environmental Mediation, Negotiation and Facilitation; Financial Concepts for Environmental Professionals; The Psychology, Biology, and Politics of Food; Women, Food and Culture; and The History of Food. Julia previously worked on agricultural policy with PepsiCo and the Union of Concerned Scientists, mediated in the Boston court system, and has farmed in Boston, Greece and South India.

Misha Bailey, Mediator

Misha Bailey is a program manager, facilitator and mediator, with over 13 years in the agriculture, food systems, environmental and public service field. Misha grew up in northern California on a small family farm, and has spent years working with livestock, food crops, forestry and native plants. She is an assistant facilitator with California’s Center for Collaborative Policy, and is also the founder and director of Durable Solutions, a northern California based collaborative problem-solving firm. Misha has also mediated in Vermont courts, designed collaborative processes for public entities and nonprofits, and worked for the State of Vermont as the lead Natural Hazard Mitigation Planner. She has years of experience in public service and is well versed in federal and state programs, including the NRCS CREP program. She has a Bachelor of Science from UCBerkeley, and a Master in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School, where she specialized in dispute resolution.

Lisa Ballin, Mediator

Lisa Ballin brings over 20 years of environmental consulting experience to her work as a mediator. She has addressed agricultural issues related to land use compatibility, farmland conservation, air quality, noise, and odors. She has also directed permitting and compliance work, including biological assessments and wetland delineations. Lisa received her mediation training at the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement and the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. She has mediated at Ventura and Los Angeles County Superior Courts and for the Inland Valleys Justice Center, including numerous debt resolution cases. She is an assistant facilitator with the Center for Collaborative Policy and a member of the Southern California Mediation Association. Lisa earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University.

Mark Batson Baril, Mediator

Mark brings over thirty-five years of business experience to the table when he assists people in resolving conflicts. A large part of that experience includes deep exposure through his family to big and small family farms, agriculture, and manufacturing. He has worked as a facilitator and mediator in Fair Trade farm situations, farmer health matters, and cooperative food movements. Mark’s specialty is working with teams in conflict, especially when the stakes are high and relationships, community, and/or a business hangs in the balance. His mediation methodology is based in a model that insists that the parties make the decisions about substance while he runs the process that surfaces the choices. Mark holds a Master’s degree in Mediation and Conflict Studies from the Woodbury Institute at Champlain College as well as a Business Management undergraduate degree. He has worked as a mediator with family and non-family teams throughout California, the US and Europe. Mark is an avid husband, entrepreneur, trail runner, and hunter (most of the time, in that order).

Joleen Borba, Mediator

Joleen Borba has a life-long association with agriculture. She was raised on a dairy farm and currently works in the citrus business. Joleen has been a member of the California Bar since1981. Her practice focused on business law and litigation. She eventually assisted her father administering his dairy farm, attended meetings with suppliers; prepared employee handbooks and reviewed employee files; managed finances; wrote and reviewed contracts; and dealt with city, county, and state regulators. Joleen is currently a co-trustee for a company that owns commercial property, a citrus packinghouse, and several hundred acres of citrus property. She is an experienced mediator and is pursuing an LL.M. in Dispute Resolution at the Straus Institute at Pepperdine School of Law.

Donald Cripe, Mediator

Donald (Don) Cripe is a retired trial lawyer; a professionally trained senior mediator with 18 years’ mediation experience; and a mediation trainer and adjunct professor of law who teaches mediation and negotiation to law students. Mr. Cripe has logged nearly 4000 mediations involving a wide variety of issues from very basic to extremely complicated. Mr. Cripe grew up in rural Indiana, lived a substantial time in his youth on a family farm, and maintains family roots in farm country. He is conversant on and sympathetic to many issues that the agriculture industry faces. Mr. Cripe has mediated and arbitrated cases involving agricultural land and other related issues.

Donald Fischer, Mediator

Donald Fischer received a Master’s Degree in Conflict Studies and Peacemaking from Fresno Pacific University (FPU). He is an Advanced Practitioner Member of the Academy of Family Mediators of the Association for Conflict Resolution and has contracted with the County of Fresno Court as a research consultant and advanced mediation trainer. Donald serves on the California Bar Association, Litigation Section, ADR committee (co-chair 2012-13). Additionally, he has extensive exposure to the issues faced by the farming industry, in part through his 35+ years as a shareholder in an Exchange Water Contractor. Fresno County Farm Bureau’s FAACT program exposed Donald to issue areas specific to agriculture.

Lan Nguyen, Mediator

Lan Nguyen received her J.D. and Certificate in Dispute Resolution from Chapman University, School of Law in 2002. Ms. Nguyen is fluent in Vietnamese and currently provides private dispute resolution and legal services through Esquire Consulting, Inc. She is also panel mediator for the Orange County Superior Court, and Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center in Los Angeles, as well as a Sustaining Member of the Southern California Mediation Association. Ms. Nguyen currently splits her time between Southern California and the Central Coast, where she developed an interest in wine and agriculture. In 2008, Ms. Nguyen familiarized herself with the basics of wine law, including grower’s liens and negotiations of grape purchase agreements and vineyard leases, by taking a Wine Law Forum class sponsored by the State Bar of California. Ms. Nguyen provides mediation services in the Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and Santa Barbara.

Larry Whitted, Mediator

Larry Whitted is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and has 17 years of experience as a professional mediator mediating agricultural and workplace disputes throughout California and Nevada in English and Spanish. He uses a “facilitative” approach to mediation in which the participants retain all decision-making power. In addition, Larry has 36 years of experience as a licensed pest control adviser working primarily with permanent crops in California. In 2015 he also became a Certified Crop Adviser.

Briana Moseley, Mediator

Briana holds a B.S. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studied Plant Sciences, with a focus in agroecology and sustainable agriculture. She holds certificates in mediation and public engagement, and brings five years of experience developing and implementing conflict management solutions for large-scale natural resource issues as an associate for Kearns & West, a Bay Area firm. Her projects included tackling high-stakes local, state, regional and national issues in water, energy, marine resources, and land use. In addition to her formal training, Briana brings over 12 years of experience as a 7th-generation co-owner and manager of her family’s 680 acre timber and cattle farm in Virginia. Most recently, Briana can be found applying her foundation in biology and agriculture to the making of artisan cheese for Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County.

Request Mediation Form

Please complete the form below to request mediation from the California Agricultural Mediation Program. If you would rather print the form and mail it to us; click here. Once your request has been received we will review your information and contact you.

 

You’ll also need to fill-out and submit the CALAMP Release Form.

Government Organizations

Other Organizations or Programs

Case Studies

Farm Loans Complicate Family Farm Transition

Farm loan and other credit issues can make a family farm transition complicated and challenging. When the next generation takes over control of the farm, there are difficult conversations required both within the family and between the family and the lender. There are questions about cash flow, debt, workload, and fairness and equity between siblings. Conflicts can arise between parents and their children or between siblings concerning management of the farm, farm credit and other financial issues. If the conflict is not resolved early on and in a constructive manner, families and businesses can be torn apart. The agricultural mediation program has helped several families deal with these issues by working with all family members to focus on their interests and resolve financial and other management issues.

NRCS Cost Share Dispute

A farmer entered into a cost share arrangement with NRCS for a manure storage system. The farmer was concerned that the contractor who performed the work did not follow all the specifications in the contract and refused to pay the contractor the remaining balance. At the mediation, the farmer, NRCS, and the contractor had an opportunity to talk about exactly what was done differently and why it was done that way. Once all the parties had a greater understanding of the nature of the work performed, the mediator facilitated a discussion on possible ways to resolve the dispute. Since mediation sessions are confidential, each party could talk openly about which options could be acceptable. The parties were then able to reach an agreement that was acceptable to all parties and most importantly it provided a means for dealing with any future problems.

Farm Loan Denial

A farmer was seeking a loan guarantee from USDA to purchase the family farm. After months of back and forth discussions between the farmer, a commercial lender, and USDA, the loan guarantee was denied. The process stalled and the farmer did not know where to turn to next. The farmer contacted the agricultural mediation program in his state and requested mediation. At the mediation, all the parties were at the table together for the first time. Mediation enabled the parties to dispel preconceived notions about each other and address each party’s concerns. The mediator assisted the parties in generating options that addressed concerns raised by the various parties and ultimately the parties were able to work together to develop a loan package that worked for all.

Restructuring Farm Loan To Feed Supply Store

A farmer owed his feed supply store a significant balance. Interest was accruing on the principal and the farmer who was struggling to make ends meet did not know how he was ever going to pay the entire debt. The feed supply store was in a tough bind. If it continued to provide feed, the farmer’s debt would likely continue to grow. If it stopped proving feed to the farmer, the farm would fail. Either way, it was not clear how the farmer could pay back the debt. The farmer contacted FSA and FSA referred the farmer to his state’s agricultural mediation program. At the mediation, it was clear that all parties had an interest in the farmer succeeding. The parties discussed several options for restructuring the loans that would enable the farmer to pay back his entire debt. Ultimately, the parties agreed to a settlement that worked for both the farmer’s and the feed supply store’s balance sheet.

Wetland Determination

A farmer disputed a determination by NRCS that a particular field was a wetland. The field was designated as a wetland on soil maps but due to past activities on the field, it was difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a new wetland determination. The farmer wanted to plant the field as soon as possible but risked a penalty and his ability to participate in USDA programs if he planted in a wetland. The parties were stuck and the farmer was concerned that the window for planting would soon pass. He requested mediation to resolve the stalemate. The mediator helped the parties make a list of possible methods to make the wetland determination and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Ultimately, the parties agreed to have their wetland experts work side by side to conduct a wetland determination on a similar adjacent field that was also designated a wetland on the soil map. Since all parties agreed to the process and conducted the test together, each party accepted the results.


The above case studies are either compilations of cases with similar facts or include changes to minor details to protect the confidentiality of the mediation process and the privacy of the parties. Photos of farms and or farmers are used for decorative purposes. These farms and farmers were not involved in the above case studies.

Testimonials 

USDA Employee

The dedication of Agricultural Mediation Program mediators and their ability to get all the necessary parties willing to work together constructively made it possible to reach a positive outcome in a case where it didn’t seem likely.

Farmer

I tried to resolve my dispute on my own for 18 months but was shot down on every avenue I tried. Once we got into mediation, they really started to listen to me for the first time and we were able to resolve the dispute quickly.

Commercial Lender

The mediation enabled the parties to communicate their interests clearly and effectively and reach a resolution quickly that was acceptable by all parties. I felt really good about how the mediation was conducted and would use Agricultural Mediation Program’s services again.

USDA Employee

Mediation has proven itself to be a cost effective way to deal with any disputes farmers may have with USDA. Compared to the appeals process, it also saves a huge amount of time.

Farmer

I was struck by how fast it went. The mediation was set up right away and the dispute was resolved within a week. If you want to fight, hire an attorney. If you want to get something done and reach an agreement, hire a mediator.

Matt Strassberg

California Agricultural Mediation Program
California Dept. of Food and Agriculture, Suite 400
1220 N Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 330-4500
matts@emcenter.org

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