South Dakota Department of Agriculture loan mediators are ready to help producers who find themselves in financial trouble.
"Now is the time to be proactive in meeting these economic challenges," says South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even.
State law requires agricultural lenders to request mediation before taking any legal action on loans for borrowers owing $50,000 or more. But mediation can be used to help resolve disputes on agricultural loans in any amounts.
SDDA has received more than 4,600 mediation requests since the program was started in 1988. Demand for the service has increased each year.
SDDA received 171 mediation requests last fiscal years, an increase of 64% from the previous year.
"In 21 years, I've never seen a mediation that was a complete waste of time," says Judith Wood, an SDDA mediator. "The very least that will come out of the meeting is a better understanding of the entire situation, the options available and the timeframes they have to work with."
SDDA also assists farmers and ranchers through the Ag Finance Counseling program. The program involves agriculture counselors who provide one-on-one financial management assistance, such as loan paperwork completion and long-term planning.
Agriculture loan mediation and finance counseling are free services for South Dakota farmers and ranchers. Contact Dawn Letellier at 605-773-5841 or 800-228-5254. For more information, log on to www.state.sd.us/doa.
Source: SD Department of Agriculture