If you are concerned about making loan payments this year, there are six things you should know about credit counseling available through the North Dakota Mediation Service:
1. Costs are minimal. The first 10 hours are free. After that it’s $15 per hour.
2. Help is close by. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and North Dakota Farm Management Education have partnered to expand credit counseling in the state. The NDMS has two credit counselors on staff. North Dakota Farm Management Education has 13 instructors in the field, and they are located in every part of the state.
3. Counselors and educators will work with you and your family to analyze the profitability and viability of your business. They can also help develop options to keep a viable operation in business. “Sometimes just having another set of eyes take a look at your situation can give you a fresh perspective,” said Doug Goehring, North Dakota agriculture commissioner, at a press conference announcing the NDMS and North Dakota Farm Management Education partnership. Mediation service is also available.
4. Discussions between you and your counselor are confidential. The information will not be shared with anyone without your permission.
5. Counselors recommend being proactive about financial problems. Start working with counselors early. “Financial trouble is not like a fine wine,” said Mark Holkup, a farm and ranch management instructor at Bismarck State College. “It does not get better with age.”
6. To request counseling, or for more information about the service, call 800-242-7535 or visit www.nd.gov/ndda/program/mediation-services. For help dealing with mental and emotional stress call 211, a statewide 24-hour crisis and intervention helpline provided by FirstLink, or contact your local health care provider. Calls requesting financial counseling assistance are up 200% over previous years, Goehring said.