FAMS, which is sanctioned and funded by USDA, will now be managed by the University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Service, which is part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Mediation is consensual and less formal than litigation or the national appeals process. Trained mediators help parties review issues and reach agreements without further appeals.

Mediators do not impose decisions, and individuals may participate without surrendering appeal rights. Possible results of mediation may include a more beneficial outcome or a more efficient appeal process.

County Extension agents to not serve as mediators. FAMS, which was initiated by UF’s Levin College of Law and has been certified to offer mediation services for USDA agencies since 1997, uses only mediators certified by the Florida Supreme Court. Mediators are independent contractors and are neutral in any cases they mediate.

If you have received a written adverse decision from the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development Agency or Natural Resources and Conservation Service, the letter should explain your rights to challenge the decision, including instructions on the mediation option. If your letter does not include instructions on how to mediate the decision, and you would like to see if this option is available to you, please contact FAMS at Room 1038, P.O. Box 110210, Gainesville, Fla. 32611-0210 or call the toll-free number (888) 712-9421.

The Farm Service Agency, Rural Development Agency or Natural Resource and Conservation Service can also provide more information.