Agriculture and mediation. The case of the USDA

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Entrées d’indexConflicts and Mediation

1 Conflict is “a situation in which actors (individuals, groups, organizations, and nations) either pursue goals or defend opposing values, or pursue simultaneously and competitively the same goal” (Tizard, 1977). Conflict is a common and normal situation (Goldberg et al ., 1992). It can take root at the personal level and develop internally according to the state of the person, what she lives. It is born of daily confrontations of interests and values; the origin is here in the interpersonal. Any situation in which the aspirations of two people or two groups prove to be incompatible may be considered conflictual.

2 Bezier (2002) insists that “the group, be it a team, a service, a workshop, a class or a family, generates, by the particular system that it constitutes, specific conflicts”. The type of organization can also generate conflicts. Verret (1997) believes that any frustration is likely to lead to conflict. One of the parties involved, who feels frustrated, may use bargaining tactics based on power strategies or collaborative tactics.

3 In general, conflict is most often resolved through dialogue and negotiation, but it can also escalate into violence, exclusion and rupture.

4 Mediation, in its most common sense, is an alternative method of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party, after hearing the views of both parties, recommends a solution to the conflict between them. Other alternative dispute resolution methods exist in practice: the arbitration of having a dispute adjudicated by an arbitrator who is a private judge whose decision is binding

On the parties, the conciliation of bringing the points of parties with a view to reaching a negotiated solution.

5 Mediation increasingly used in the United States, is spreading in all areas and particularly in rural housing loan

. What are the mediation processes in the American agricultural world? How the conflicts managed and what are are the results? Why the development of mediation in the American agricultural world? What is the evolution of mediation thinking in the French rural housing loan

 world through research and practice?

6 To answer these questions, the article is structured as follows. The first part will present the literature in the field of American agriculture and mediation. The case of the “USDA Mediation Program” will be analyzed more specifically in the second part. Finally, the conclusion will allow to expose a reflection not only on the evolutions of the mediation but also on its limits. The conceptual framework

7 While American agriculture has undergone profound changes, at the same time mediation has developed to cope with conflicts, particularly due to the indebtedness of farmers. Faced with the growth of mediation worldwide, many researchers in fields as diverse as economics, law and management sciences have focused on the phenomenon of mediation as a way of conflict resolution.

The first public interventions in the field of agricultural policy in the United States date back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was at this time that price support rural housing loan

Were introduced. Import quotas, and the first crop insurance programs. In the 1950s, excess production ran producers to seek outlets for their agricultural products. The first production control programs were introduced in the 1960s. In the 1980s, the trend of public intervention reversed and the first ceilings on direct aids were implemented, together with the decline in these programs. Direct aids. American agriculture is going through a period of crisis and exodus. On the other hand, export policy is becoming more offensive and direct export payments are increasing. Moreover, public support is increasingly directed towards companies engaged in exporting (Ball et al., 2002; Blanchet et al., 1999; Dumont, 1949; Gazzi, 1984; Murphy, 2002; Petit, 2002).

9 From 1981 to 1986, the US agriculture is undergoing one of its most serious financial crisis since the thirties. The impact of this depression spread to all rural communities, and other economic sectors dependent on agriculture were also severely affected (Barnett, 2000).

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