2010 Wyoming Statutes
Title 11 - Agriculture, Livestock And Other Animals
Chapter 41 - Agriculture Mediation Service



11-41-101. Short title.


This chapter is known and may be cited as the "Agriculture Mediation Service Act of 1987".


11-41-102. Definitions.


(a) As used in this chapter:


(i) "Action" means a court action by a creditor against a farmer for payment of a debt, to enforce or foreclose a security interest, lien or mortgage, or to repossess or declare a creditor's interest in real property. "Action" also includes any matter filed in a court of law or before an agency by a party to resolve a dispute;


(ii) "Agricultural property" means real property that is used principally for farming or ranching, real property that is a farmer's principal residence and any land contiguous to the residence, personal property that is used as security to finance farming or personal property that is used for farming;


(iii) "Board" means the agriculture and natural resource mediation board;


(iv) "Creditor" means any person who holds a mortgage on or is a vendor of a land contract for agricultural property, who has a lien on or security interest in agricultural property or who is a judgment creditor with a judgment against a farmer affecting the farmer's agricultural property;


(v) "Farmer or rancher" means a person engaged in farming or ranching who owns or leases a total of sixty (60) acres or more of land that is agricultural property and whose gross sales of farm products for the preceding year equaled twenty thousand dollars ($20,000.00) or more;


(vi) "Farming or ranching" means the employment and operation of real property for the production of agricultural products, including but not limited to:


(A) Raising, harvesting and selling crops, hay and other products of the soil;


(B) Feeding, breeding, management and sale of livestock, poultry, fur bearing animals or honeybees, or the produce thereof; or


(C) Dairying and the sale of dairy products.


(vii) "Mediation" means the act of a neutral person in intermediating between or among contending parties with a view to assisting them to adjust or settle their dispute by mutual agreement;


(viii) "Parties" means the primary decision makers engaged in the mediation process;


(ix) "Standing" means a person that is given the authority to enter into a mediation process by the board.


11-41-103. Agriculture mediation board created; membership.


(a) There is created in the governor's office the agriculture mediation board which consists of six (6) members, five (5) of whom shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate in accordance with W.S. 28-12-101 through 28-12-103. The director of the department of agriculture or his designee shall be a member of the board. The board shall elect a chairman from its members.


(b) Each appointed member shall serve a four (4) year term. If a vacancy occurs on the board, the governor with the advice and consent of the senate shall appoint a person to serve the unexpired term. Initial appointments or any vacancy occurring between sessions of the legislature may be filled by the governor in accordance with W.S. 28-12-101(b).


(c) Each appointed member of the board shall serve without compensation.


11-41-104. Powers and duties of the board.


(a) The board shall:


(i) Prepare all forms necessary for the administration of this chapter and shall ensure that forms are disseminated and that the availability of mediation under this chapter is publicized;


(ii) Promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement this chapter. The rules may define owners and creditors of agriculturally related businesses and permit owners and creditors of such businesses to participate in mediation subject to the same terms and conditions applicable to farmers and creditors under this chapter. The rules may also define, for purposes of this chapter, persons who have standing to seek mediation, proper procedures for initiating and conducting mediation processes and issues and subjects to which mediation may be made which shall include wetlands determination, compliance with farm programs, agricultural credit, rural water loan programs, grazing on public lands or other issues and subjects which the board considers appropriate.


(b) The board may employ and remove for cause administrative, technical and other personnel. The board may provide training programs for prospective mediators and obtain technical information when needed.


11-41-105. Selection of mediators; duties; compensation; immunity.


(a) The board shall select mediators and shall establish training standards for mediators which shall include training in mediation processes and conflict resolution.


(b) Mediators shall:


(i) Listen to the parties desiring to be heard;


(ii) Endeavor to create a climate conducive to the resolution of differences between the parties;


(iii) Inform the parties as to the existence of available assistance programs;


(iv) Repealed by Laws 1988, ch. 48, 2.


(v) Assist the parties in attempting to arrive at an agreement;


(vi) Assist in the preparation of a written agreement.


(c) Mediators shall be compensated in an amount approved by the board. The parties in the mediation process shall share the costs of the mediation equally. The board may establish a fee schedule to recover, to the extent possible, the board's administrative costs from the parties upon the execution of a mediation agreement.


(d) Mediators, and University of Wyoming financial analysts and extension personnel to the extent they participate in mediations under this chapter, are immune from civil liability for any good faith act or omission within the scope of the performance of their powers and duties under this chapter.


(e) After receiving a mediation request involving an agricultural debt, the board may refer the borrower to the University of Wyoming college of agriculture through the extension service or other financial analysts skilled in assisting with farm debt matters. The financial analyst shall assist the borrower in the preparation of information relative to the finances of the borrower for the initial mediation meeting.


(f) Mediators may not compel a settlement.


11-41-106. Confidentiality of records.



(a) Upon acceptance and initiation of a mediation procedure, all documents and discussions, recorded or otherwise, shall be confidential and are not public records under W.S. 16-4-201 through 16-4-205.


(b) All data regarding the finances of individual borrowers and creditors which is created, collected and maintained by agricultural mediators and which are not already matters of public record are confidential and are not public records under W.S. 16-4-201 through 16-4-205.


11-41-107. Suspension of court or agency action to allow for voluntary mediation.


(a) During the pendency of any action brought by parties to the mediation process, the court, or agency if filed before an agency, may, upon the written stipulation of all parties to the action that they wish to engage in mediation under this chapter, enter an order suspending the action.


(b) A suspension order under subsection (a) of this section suspends all orders and proceedings in the action for the time period specified in the suspension order. In specifying the time period, the court or agency shall exercise its discretion for the purpose of permitting the parties to engage in mediation without prejudice to the rights of any person. The suspension order may include other terms and conditions as the court or agency may deem appropriate. The suspension order may be revoked upon motion of any party or upon motion of the court or agency.


(c) If all parties to the action agree, by written stipulation, that all issues before the court or agency are resolved by mediation under this chapter, the court or agency shall dismiss the action. If the parties do not agree that the issues are resolved or if the court or agency revokes the suspension order under subsection (b) of this section, the action shall proceed as if no mediation had been attempted.


11-41-108. Mediation process.


(a) Any conflict between two (2) parties which involves agriculture or natural resources may be subject to mediation. This may include, but not be limited to, conflicts between federal, state and local agencies, individuals and organizations. No creditor shall institute an action as defined in this chapter without first notifying the borrower of the availability of mediation services under W.S. 11-41-101 through 11-41-110.


(b) A farmer or creditor wishing to resolve a dispute between them involving the farmer's agricultural property and the creditor's interest in a mortgage, land contract, lien, security interest or judgment affecting the agricultural property, either before an action has been initiated to which they are parties or after entry of a suspension order in an action to which they are parties under W.S. 11-41-107, may participate in mediation in accordance with this chapter.


(c) To participate in mediation, the parties shall submit a request for mediation, together with an agreement to mediate, to the board on forms prepared by the board.


(d) If no action has been initiated to which the farmer and creditor are parties, the board shall identify the parties to any mediation under this chapter and shall require all parties to enter into an agreement to refrain from initiating any action among the parties affecting the subject matter of the mediation for a sixty (60) day period.


(e) After the board has obtained the agreement or agreements under subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the board shall provide the parties with the names, mailing addresses and qualifications of mediators located in the geographical area in which the agricultural property or farmer is located. The parties shall select a mediator or, upon request of the parties, the board shall designate a mediator for the parties.


11-41-109. Effect of mediation.


The parties may at any time withdraw from mediation. The parties have full responsibility for reaching and enforcing any agreement among them. After the expiration of the sixty (60) day period under W.S. 11-41-108(d) or the time period specified in the suspension order under W.S. 11-41-107, the mediation process shall terminate unless extended by unanimous mutual assent of the parties.


11-41-110. Effect on other creditors; no delay.


With respect to mediation between parties before an action has been initiated to which they are parties, no agreement to mediate, or the fact that mediation is currently occurring, shall have the effect of delaying, postponing or extending any time limits in any legal proceeding commenced to enforce a mortgage, land contract, lien, security interest or judgment commenced by a creditor other than the creditor or creditors participating in the mediation.


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