Extension of Farmer-Lender Mediation Act passed by House

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The House voted 124-5 Thursday to extend the sunset date of The Farmer-Lender Mediation Act by four years.

Sponsored by Jeanne Poppe (DFL-Austin), HF251 now moves to the Senate where it is sponsored by Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin).

The bill would change the expiration date of the act — which requires a bank or other creditor to offer mediation to a farmer before enforcing a debt secured by agriculture property such as land, livestock or crops — to June 30, 2017.

Although the law was enacted 27 years ago during the farm crisis of the mid-1980s, nearly 3,000 mediation notices, involving 1,087 farms, were received in fiscal year 2012, the fourth-highest total in the last 10 years.

“The Farmer-Lender Mediation Act was enacted in 1986, when there was severe financial stress in the agriculture economy, and farmers across the state were in distress, and lenders as well were in distress trying to figure out how to actually assist the farmers,” Poppe said. “The bill was enacted in order to allow the farmers and lenders to have a cooling-off period and in order to be able to mediate the dispute that they had in order to resolve the problems, in order to pay the bills and set up the payment plans.”