The new Farm Debt Mediation Scheme will begin operating on 1 July 2020 and the Ministry of Primary Industries says it will be able to consider applications from next week (2 February onwards) from mediation organisations wanting to participate in the scheme.
Parts 1 and Subparts 1 and 2 of Part 3 of the Farm Debt Mediation Act 2019 come into force on 1 February, with the rest of the Act coming into force on 1 July.
Subparts 1 and 2 of Part 3 relate to approval of mediators and administrative review of decisions.
MPI says the Farm Debt Mediation Scheme brings a new approach to farm debt mediation.
It says the scheme is designed to address any power imbalance between stressed farm businesses and their creditors. Creditors will be required to offer mediation to farmers before they can take action on a debt default.
"We've already heard from leading mediation organisations that are interested in participating. If an organisation is approved, they will then make sure their mediators are trained for the new scheme," says Karen Adair, MPI's deputy director-general of Agriculture and Investment Services.
Ms Adair says two organisations, the Arbitrators' and Mediators' Institute of New Zealand and the Resolution Institute, have advised MPI they are intending to apply to be approved mediation organisations under the new legislation. They are jointly developing a day-long seminar in mid-February to train existing mediators.