Ohio farm scene

When USDA Farm Service Agency expanded its decades-old Certified Mediation Program to include work with family farm transition planning and landowner-neighbor disputes a few years ago, Ohio State University put Ohio Farm Resolution Services into action.

“When USDA expanded their mediation program, Peggy Hall and I thought it would be a good opportunity to help farm families with transition planning,” said Robert Moore, an attorney and research specialist for the OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program. Moore was raised on a dairy farm in Coshocton County, and Hall is an attorney and is the director of the program.

Robert Moore
Robert Moore

Moore is also an owner emeritus of Wright & Moore Law Co. LPA, where he practiced law for 18 years. The law firm is known for its knowledge of agricultural and landowner law. Farm transition or succession planning were two of the top issues that cropped up when he was in full-time private practice, he said.

“Our idea with Ohio Farm Resolution Services is to provide some tools, strategies and ideas to get the conversation started,” Moore said, noting that often ideas about the next steps in farm succession planning are assumed but not articulated. “There’s a plan there, but everyone needs to find out what it is.”

In October of last year, OFRS was approved to become a certified USDA mediation service provider. While being a mediator of farm transitions was a catalyst for offering the service, there are many avenues of help and guidance available from the Ohio State group to farmers and landowners.

Moore stressed that the staff of Ohio Farm Resolution Services cannot draw up legal papers or act as attorneys, but can help families all the way up to that point. Beyond farm transitions, Moore said OFRS can help mediate other farm- and landowner-related issues and disputes as well.

“Our hope is to help before it gets (contentious),” Moore said. “At least they have a better understanding of the law and have a better chance of working it out with their neighbors or (the other party).”

Since becoming a certified mediation service provider, Moore said the group has helped foster a positive outcome in three farm transitions, three farm lease agreements, two land use zoning issues and provided one farm business consultation.

As word spreads, he hopes the expertise of OFRS helps more families and landowners plan for any long-term or short-term impacts to their farms and businesses.

“Each situation is different,” he said. “We encourage all farmers to reach out to us and see how we may be able to help.”

Online extra: Starting the conversation

Melinda WittenOhio Farm Bureau Senior Director of Leadership Development Melinda Witten is a certified coach for Legacy Conversations, which caters to the needs of farm families who find themselves grappling with decision-making challenges. She is working with Ohio Farm Resolution Services as well.

Witten said there are a few signs that indicate it is time to bring in an outside party to assist with farm transition planning.

Legacy Conversations is a guided process wherein a certified mediator collaborates closely with individuals or members of a farm family, providing valuable assistance in overcoming obstacles and cultivating fresh perspectives.

To learn more about Legacy Conversations, please email Melinda Witten at [email protected].

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: