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S.F. No. 1015 - Agricultural Nuisance/Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act
Author: Senator Bill Weber
Prepared By: Greg Knopff, Senate Analyst (651/296-9399)
Date: February 22, 2017


Section 1 [Agricultural operation not a nuisance] extends the protection from nuisance liability in current law to feedlots of all sizes. Current law restricts the protections to swine operations with fewer than 1,000 animal units and to cattle facilities with fewer than 2,500 animals. This section also provides a cross-reference to the “Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act,” established in this bill.

Section 2 [Citation] provides that sections 2 to 14 of the bill may be cited as the “Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act.”

Section 3 [Legislative findings] provides legislative findings for creation of the Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act.

Section 4 [Definitions] defines “agricultural operation,” “director,” “dispute,” “file,” “mediator,” “nuisance,” “participate,” “other party,” and “serve” for the purposes of the Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act.

Section 5 [Farm mediation] provides for the Director of the Minnesota Extension Service to contract with and train mediators and to appoint a farm mediation administrator under the Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act.

Section 6 [Voluntary mediations] allows an agricultural operation or other party to request voluntary farmer-neighbor mediation.

Section 7 [Mandatory mediation proceedings]

               Subd. 1 [Mediation request] requires a person who desires to bring a civil proceeding to resolve a dispute against an agricultural operation to serve a mediation notice on the agricultural operator and the director of extension. This subdivision also establishes information that must be furnished.

               Subd. 2 [Initial consultation] provides that within 30 days of receiving the mediation request, the assigned mediator will conduct an initial consultation with the other party to hear the party’s claims. After the initial consultation, mediation may be waived if the other party and the agricultural operation agree in writing.

               Subd. 3 [Supplemental information; opportunity to cure] provides for the information that must be filed by the other party with the director of extension and served on the agricultural operation. Within 20 days of receipt of the information, the agricultural operation may file with the director and serve on the other party a plan to abate the conditions. The agricultural operation shall be given a reasonable time to implement the plan. If implementation of the plan abates the nuisance, the director shall dismiss the mediation.  If implementation of the plan does not abate the nuisance, mediation will continue and the other party must file a detailed statement with the director and serve on the agricultural operation.

               Subd. 4 [Mediation proceeding notice] provides for the mediation notice to be sent to the agricultural operation and the other party within 10 days after the time when the agricultural operation may file and serve a plan. This subdivision also provides for required information on the notice, mediator selection options, and a mediator affidavit.

               Subd. 5 [Mediation proceeding] requires participation by the agricultural operation and the other party in a mediation proceeding. If no agreement is reached, the agricultural operation or the other party may request an additional proceeding be conducted within 30 days.

               Subd. 6 [Mediation agreement] specifies that a mediation agreement must be signed by the mediator and all of the parties and that the parties are bound by the agreement.

               Subd. 7 [Mediation release] directs the mediator to provide a mediation release when an agreement cannot be reached or when the agricultural operation does not participate in mediation. This subdivision requires that both parties to the mediation must be represented by a natural person who has the ability to sign all required instruments of mediation. This subdivision also requires notification to the parties if the mediator denies to issue a mediation release and the ability of the parties to waive mediation.

Section 8 [Good faith required] requires the parties to mediation to engage in good faith mediation. A mediator who finds that one of the parties is not mediating in good faith, must sign an affidavit and file it with the director. This section also provides for court review of lack of good faith mediation.

Section 9 [Forms and compensation] provides for the director to develop forms and set compensation for mediators.

Section 10 [Extension of deadlines] allows for the extension of mediation deadlines for just cause.

Section 11 [Private data] classifies all data used in the mediation as private or nonpublic data.

Section 12 [Judicial review] allows for judicial review of the director’s decisions on mediation.

Section 13 [Effect of mediation] provides that rights are not affected and that time periods relating to a claim are suspended upon filing a mediation request.

Section 14 [Inconsistent laws] provides that the Farmer-Neighbor Mediation Act has precedence over conflicting laws.

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