Mediators can help ease rural friction


DUBLIN, Ohio — Disputes arise in rural areas of Ohio, and if things get serious, those involved may want to consider mediation rather than the legal system to resolve the issue.

A new team of experts, the Rural Mediation Group, has been formed to help people find mutually agreeable solutions to their rural conflicts. A neutral mediator helps parties get to the heart of the situation, assists with negotiations, and the end result is a mutually agreed upon solution to the problem. This form of resolution is quicker, less expensive, offers more creative solutions and is more controlled than going through the legal process, said group member Robert Moore.

“If you go through mediation, you probably aren’t going to get everything you want, but at least you control what you’re giving up to get the matter resolved,” he said. “If you go to court, you’re putting it in the hands of a judge and jury, and you have no control over what they do.”

Rural roots

Members of the Rural Mediation Group have helped mediate disputes involving grain contracts, eminent domain takings, family farm business planning, estate planning, drainage and tile issues, fence lines, landowner-tenant concerns, employee transition and termination, environmental regulations, USDA conservation compliance, and nuisance disputes, among others.

“We are part of and understand the rural and agricultural community,” Moore said. “We have the technical expertise that other mediators would not have.”

The earlier in a conflict people consider mediation, the better, because dispute resolution is most effective in the early stages of a conflict, before the friction causes long-term problems, said Debbie Bowden, Rural Mediation Group team member.


Mediation costs are defined up front and generally considerably less than litigation.

Participants can also clarify expectations to help govern the outcome. Parties can accept, refine or reject final recommendations; issues can be dealt with confidentially; and negotiations can result in outcomes that open channels of communication for an ongoing relationship.

About the group

The Rural Mediation Group, a cooperative, consists of: Natalie Blue, partner in Clifton Family Farms and operations assistant at Ashville Grain; Bowden, owner of The Bowden Group, a strategic human resource and organizational development firm in Ostrander, and owner/manager of Mill Creek Farm; Moore, agricultural law attorney with Wright Law Co. LPA in Dublin, and active member of his family’s Coshocton County farm; and Mark Wilson, owner of Land Stewards LLC, a leading agronomic and environmental services group in Marion.

For more information about the Rural Mediation Group, contact 614-824-7967, or visit


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