After a rare show of unanimity in both the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives, Governor Tim Walz signed into law a farm mediation bill that will extend the time farmers can mediate financial problems with their lenders to 150 days or December 1st, whichever is later. Before the bill’s passage, farmers had 90 days to mediate their situation. Matthew Sheets is a farm crisis organizer with the Land Stewardship Project, a group that was instrumental in getting the bill passed, and he told the KMRS Community Connection that the bill’s passage comes at a crucial time.
“There’s been a real depression in markets. Frankly, markets were already extremely depressed before,” said Sheets. “They have been turning downward for especially small to mid-size farmers for the past six years or so. And what COVID-19 has done in many cases is halve those markets. So right now it’s a really critical time to have this type of legislation.”
Sheets said farmers interested in the program should call their local farm advocates. They can also check their mailboxes, as bankers and debt collectors need to give a notice and allow 14 days for a farmer to respond and go to mediation.