A new credit union in Unity will lend exclusively to farmers and food entrepreneurs in the state.
The Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union plans to make $12 million in loans available during its first six years.
Heather Donahue operates a tiny dairy farm in Pittsfield. She says it’s often difficult for small farmers to get credit in Maine.
“Here in Maine, farms tend to be on the smaller side because of the land base that’s available, and those smaller farms are trying to make lenders understand the limitations in size there is as well as the type of operations we have,” she says. “Farming has a reputation of having an unstable income source, and that can make lenders nervous. And not all lenders are willing to work with farmers on flexible payment plans, or thinking outside the box.”
Donahue says a farmer-specific credit union will also be useful for Maine's growing numbers of new farmers, including young people and new immigrants. In a news release, the credit union says it will help address a portion of the $180 million that farmers need to buy land, upgrade equipment and make other improvements to their businesses.