USDA Case

A dairy farmer in Washington has Organic certification through Oregon Tilth. He has been producing Organic Milk and selling cattle as Organic Beef. For the past 3 years he has mistakenly sold at least one cow from his remaining “non‐organic” certified cows in the herd as  Organic. He has not had a clear system for keeping track of his cattle for the ranch-hands to decipher. Communication breakdowns had led him to break his promises twice with the certification agency. There was no more room for error. The agency agreed in mediation to allow him to maintain his certification for milk while revoking the beef certification. He will be able to stay in business and sell off the cows that do not qualify for the Organic program, maintain a good credit with the agency and reapply when he can stand by his system of verification.

Family Mediation

Parents often face more complicated conflicts when they choose to remarry. In this case the father of 3 children had remarried for the second time since the separation from their mother. The new relationship also came with another step-sibling. They came to mediation originally to work through the payment of a medical bill. The mediators realized that the parents had not been communicating at all for the past 3 months. They talked in mediation, about how they need to check in with each other, about how their kids are adjusting, and came to agreements to have individual time  with each of the 3 kids in the following 3 weeks. Communication moving forward would be about how to adjust their parenting time to include what the kids want. This is a big step for most families. The parents in this case are working toward a better future. And, they did agree on the medical bill too.

Landlord Tenant Success Story: How much is peace worth?

One year ago, a family of four moved out of their apartment, into a larger home. They hired a cleaning service to do the final run-through, as both parents work and had a hard time finding the time to do the detailed cleaning to get their full deposit back. They were concerned, with a limited income and trying to buy a home of their own, they couldn’t afford to not have their $1,500 returned. They were also concerned because their cat had done damage to the carpet. But they thought the $300 pet deposit was sure to cover that repair. For 2 months after they moved out, they called, emailed and texted with their former landlord. All seemed good. Then, they received a message saying that the damage to the apartment was beyond reasonable, and they would not be receiving any money back.

The landlord said the condo was lovely, inside and out. Yes, it had been a rental for several years, but very nice families had been there and the common grounds were impeccable. The latest family was beyond reasonable, she said. The entire apartment smelled of cats and the carpet needed replacing. The yard was destroyed and needed to be replanted, even the shrubbery. Clean-up costs ran well over $3,000, which is why she felt she was being more than fair to not refund the total $1,800.

After a half dozen phone calls with both parties, and a traditional bargaining negotiation, both parties agreed that the landlord would write a check for $900, and the renters agreed to cease all communication regarding the issue.