United States Code

USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 13, 2024

§ 5101.
Qualifying States
(a)
In general

A State is a qualifying State if the Secretary of Agriculture (hereinafter in this chapter referred to as the “Secretary”) determines that the State has in effect a mediation program that meets the requirements of subsection (c).

(b)
Determination by Secretary

Within 15 days after the Secretary receives from the Governor of a State a description of the mediation program of the State and a statement certifying that the State has met all of the requirements of subsection (c), the Secretary shall determine whether the State is a qualifying State.

(c)
Requirements of State mediation programs
(1)
Issues covered
(A)
In general

To be certified as a qualifying State, the mediation program of the State must provide mediation services to persons described in paragraph (2) that are involved in agricultural loans (regardless of whether the loans are made or guaranteed by the Secretary or made by a third party).

(B)
Other issues
The mediation program of a qualifying State may provide mediation services to persons described in paragraph (2) that are involved in one or more of the following issues:
(i)
Wetlands determinations.
(ii)
Compliance with farm programs, including conservation programs and the national organic program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).
(iii)
Agricultural credit.
(iv)
Rural water loan programs.
(v)
Grazing on National Forest System land.
(vi)
Pesticides.
(vii)
Lease issues, including land leases and equipment leases.
(viii)
Family farm transition.
(ix)
Farmer-neighbor disputes.
(x)
Such other issues as the Secretary or the head of the department of agriculture of each participating State considers appropriate for better serving the agricultural community and persons eligible for mediation.
(C)
Mediation services
Funding provided for the mediation program of a qualifying State may also be used to provide credit counseling to persons described in paragraph (2)—
(i)
prior to the initiation of any mediation involving the Department of Agriculture; or
(ii)
unrelated to any ongoing dispute or mediation in which the Department of Agriculture is a party.
(2)
Persons eligible for mediation
(A)
In general
Subject to subparagraph (B), the persons referred to in paragraph (1) include—
(i)
agricultural producers;
(ii)
creditors of producers (as applicable);
(iii)
persons directly affected by actions of the Department of Agriculture; and
(iv)
any other persons involved in an issue for which mediation services are provided by a mediation program described in paragraph (1)(B).
(B)
Voluntary participation
(i)
In general

Subject to clause (ii) and section 5103 of this title, a person may not be compelled to participate in mediation services provided under this Act.

(ii)
State laws

Clause (i) shall not affect a State law requiring mediation before foreclosure on agricultural land or property.

(3)
Certification conditions
The Secretary shall certify a State as a qualifying State with respect to the issues proposed to be covered by the mediation program of the State if the mediation program—
(A)
provides for mediation services that, if decisions are reached, result in mediated, mutually agreeable decisions between the parties to the mediation;
(B)
is authorized or administered by an agency of the State government or by the Governor of the State;
(C)
provides for the training of mediators;
(D)
provides that the mediation sessions shall be confidential;
(E)
ensures, in the case of agricultural loans, that all lenders and borrowers of agricultural loans receive adequate notification of the mediation program; and
(F)
ensures, in the case of other issues covered by the mediation program, that—
(i)
the Department of Agriculture receives adequate notification of those issues; and
(ii)
persons directly affected by actions of the Department of Agriculture receive adequate notification of the mediation program.
(d)
Definition of mediation services
In this section, the term “mediation services”, with respect to mediation or a request for mediation, may include all activities related to—
(1)
the intake and scheduling of cases;
(2)
the provision of background and selected information regarding the mediation process;
(3)
financial advisory and counseling services (as appropriate) performed by a person other than a State mediation program mediator; and
(4)
the mediation session.
(Pub. L. 100–233, title V, § 501, Jan. 6, 1988, 101 Stat. 1662; Pub. L. 100–399, title V, § 501, Aug. 17, 1988, 102 Stat. 1005; Pub. L. 103–354, title II, § 282(a), Oct. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 3233; Pub. L. 106–472, title III, § 306(a), Nov. 9, 2000, 114 Stat. 2072; Pub. L. 115–334, title V, § 5402(a), Dec. 20, 2018, 132 Stat. 4674.)
cite as: 7 USC 5101