What we do
The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) provides preliminary assistance to farmers and creditors who have agreed to mediate their disputes and arranges mediation between the parties under the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2011 (the Act).
The Act seeks to resolve farm debt disputes quickly and fairly. It gives farmers the option to meet with their creditors before methods of enforcement take place, for example, taking possession of a property under a farm mortgage.
The other main function for the VSBC under the Act concerns the issuing of exemption and prohibition certificates. Before a creditor may take enforcement action against a farmer, they require an exemption certificate from the VSBC.
Conversely, a farmer may seek a prohibition certificate from the VSBC, which prevents a creditor taking enforcement action until satisfactory mediation has occurred.
How we can help
When a request for mediation is received, the VSBC contacts the farmer and the creditor and provides both parties with preliminary assistance. This includes discussing the objectives of mediation, the responsibilities of both parties, and determining a mutually acceptable time and place for mediation.
Where farmers are not represented, the VSBC will recommend they seek assistance from their local Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS).
The RFCS is a free service and can provide a rural financial counsellor to help farmers to prepare for mediation and assist them at mediation.
Farm debt mediations are held in both the VSBC’s Melbourne office and across regional Victoria, depending on the needs of farmers and creditors.
The fee for mediation is $195 per party for each session.
Under the the Act, a creditor must provide a farmer with the option to mediate a debt default before the creditor takes any enforcement action under a farm mortgage. The farmer has 21 days to respond to the notice provided by the creditor.
A farmer may also request mediation by providing written notice to the creditor
For more information, contact Agriculture Victoria’s Farm Debt Mediation Officer on 136 186.