(a) Required informal review of FSA adverse decisions. Except with respect to farm credit programs, a participant must seek an informal review of an adverse decision issued at the field service office level by an officer or employee of FSA, or by any employee of a county or area committee established under section 8(b)(5) of the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, 16 U.S.C. 590h(b)(5), before NAD will accept an appeal of a FSA adverse decision. Such informal review shall be done by the county or area committee with responsibility for the adverse decision at issue. The procedures for requesting such an informal review before FSA are found in 7 CFR part 780. After receiving a decision upon review by a county or area committee, a participant may seek further informal review by the State FSA committee or may appeal directly to NAD under § 11.6(b).
(b) Optional informal review. With respect to adverse decisions issued at the State office level of FSA and adverse decisions of all other agencies, a participant may request an agency informal review of an adverse decision of that agency prior to appealing to NAD. Procedures for requesting such an informal review are found at 7 CFR part 780 (FSA), 7 CFR part 614 (NRCS), 7 CFR part 1900, subpart B (RUS), 7 CFR part 1900, subpart B (RBS), and 7 CFR part 1900, subpart B (RHS).
(c) Mediation. A participant also shall have the right to utilize any available alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or mediation program, including any mediation program available under title V of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1987, 7 U.S.C. 5101 et seq., in order to attempt to seek resolution of an adverse decision of an agency prior to a NAD hearing. If a participant:
(1) Requests mediation or ADR prior to filing an appeal with NAD, the participant stops the running of the 30-day period during which a participant may appeal to NAD under § 11.6(b)(1), and will have the balance of days remaining in that period to appeal to NAD once mediation or ADR has concluded.
(2) Requests mediation or ADR after having filed an appeal to NAD under § 11.6(b), but before the hearing, the participant will be deemed to have waived his right to have a hearing within 45 days under § 11.8(c)(1) but shall have a right to have a hearing within 45 days after conclusion of mediation or ADR.