Businesses need capital to expand and operate and no where is this more true than in agriculture and food-related ventures. However, the farming and fisheries sector suffers from both high weather-related risk and skittish bankers unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the industry.
Enter ‘Maine Harvest Credit Union’ – soon to become the first new Maine credit union in over 30 years – the brainchild of our friends Sam May & Scott Budde. Sam & Scott are incredibly capable and dedicated to this staggering and herculean task of helping Maine food producers. Maine Harvest Credit Union targets are filling the identified gaps of moderate-sized operating loans and farmland purchase.
If all goes well this Maine model could be replicated in other States in order to help family-scale farmers. Jim & Megan
“According to census figures, the number of farms in Maine is up 13 percent since 2006, and agriculture sales are up 24 percent since 2007. The number of farmers under 34 is also on the rise, and “career changers” have contributed to the growth of local agriculture business.
“And yet, getting a loan for land, equipment or expansion is really hard. The resulting deficit, an estimated $90 million in unmet need for small farm mortgages, set Scott Budde and Sam May on a mission to create a new lending institution, the Maine Harvest Credit Project.
“It’s a finance project, not a grantmaking institution, but the team is looking to philanthropy to anchor the project with $2.4 million toward startup costs and seed capital to back up future loans. May and Budde are about 60 percent there, having raised $1.44 million, including from the Merck Foundation, Sewall Foundation and Ram Island Conservation.”