Ohio State University to Provide Resolution Services for Ohio Farms

By:Robert Moore, Friday, October 13th, 2023

Legal Groundwork

Ohio has over 76,000 farms and 13 million acres of farmland.  In such a large and diverse industry, conflicts commonly arise that can lead to disputes, litigation, and appeals.  Ultimately, these conflicts can cause harmful effects that threaten the viability of Ohio agriculture.  To address these issues, a new program has been developed - Ohio Farm Resolution Services at The Ohio State University (OFRS).  The goal of OFRS is to cultivate solutions to the conflicts that impact Ohio's farms and farm families.

OFRS will provide a three-pronged approach to assist farms and farm families in resolving problems and conflicts:

  1. Education resources.  The first approach will be to provide educational resources that may lead to a resolution.  Educational resources may be in the form of bulletins, publications, articles or individual discussions.  For example, OFRS may provide a law bulletin on farm leasing to a tenant and landowner involved in a lease dispute.  Some disputes can be resolved through education alone.
  2. Consultation and informal resolution services.  OSU Extension attorneys and farm management specialists will be available to meet with parties to assist with resolving their issues.  These services will be more informal and may include sitting at the kitchen table with a family struggling with transition planning or perhaps meeting in a pasture to discuss shared fence line concerns between neighboring farmers.
  3. Formal mediation.  Sometimes conflicts escalate to hard feelings and entrenched positions.  When this happens, formal mediation may be appropriate.  This process will involve the intervention of a trained mediator to assist the parties in negotiating jointly acceptable resolution of issues in conflict. The mediator meets with the parties at a neutral location, often shuttling between separate rooms, where the parties can discuss the dispute and explore a variety of solutions.  Formal mediation is often the last step before litigation.

Most consultation and mediation services will be conducted by OFRS’ primary consultants/mediators: Peggy Hall, David Marrison, Jeff Lewis and Robert Moore.  OFRS will also develop a pool of outside mediators who can assist with matters that require special or unique technical knowledge.  OFRS is committed to providing individuals who have both the knowledge and skill to help understand and resolve issues.

OFRS will be able to assist on a wide variety of matters.  The following are issues for which OFRS can provide assistance:

  • Family communication
  • Farm transition planning
  • Business entities
  • Business practices
  • Land use
  • Property issues/neighbor issues
  • Zoning
  • Farm leases
  • Energy leases
  • Farm labor issues
  • Farmland drainage
  • Crops/agronomy/soils disputes
  • USDA administrative appeals
  • ODA administrative appeals
  • Farm lender/creditor negotiations

OFRS is available to provide educational and consultation services now.  Mediation services will be available beginning in January 2024.  For more information or to refer someone to OFRS, contact Robert Moore at moore.301@osu.edu or 614-247-8260.  Information is also available at farmoffice.osu.edu/ofrs.

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Tags: Resolution, OFRS