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Oregon Bill Would Increase Incentives To Mediate Farming Disputes

USDA

Oregon farmers could soon be more likely to use a mediator to help settle their disputes with neighboring farmers.

Lawmakers could give final approval as soon as Thursday to a bill that's meant to head off lawsuits.

An example of a potential dispute would be if one farmer wants to grow organic crops, but a neighboring farmer is planting genetically engineered crops. The potential for cross-pollination could devalue the first farmer's harvest.

Democratic Representative Brian Clem said the bill would set up a mediation process to help keep such disputes out of court.

"So these are all farmers, both proceeding along lawfully, but the concern is that guy's crop may ruin my crop, so I would like some way to not have him do that,” Clem explained.

Clem said that could include staggering when certain crops are planted, or establishing a buffer between certain types of plants.

If one party refuses to go through mediation, the bill would allow courts to take that into account if a lawsuit is filed.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.