A new Maine credit union catering to farmers and food producers has been granted regulatory approval to begin operations.

Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union, based in Unity, received its charter from the National Credit Union Administration on Aug. 14, the credit union announced Friday.

Maine Harvest will serve the employees and roughly 13,000 members of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Maine Farmland Trust, it said. The credit union will offer business loans to small farms, farmers and other food producers within its field of membership.

“How appropriate that this credit union is located in a town named Unity,” Credit Union Administration Chairman Rodney E. Hood said in a news release. “Credit unions are organized through, and operate on, the principle of people working together to support one another. I want to thank the organizers of Maine Harvest for their hard work to bring their dream to reality and congratulate them on their charter.”

In addition to the usual consumer and business banking services, Maine Harvest will offer specialized agricultural real estate and equipment loans, the credit union said. It expects to begin operations in the fall.

The credit union aims to fill a gap in available financing for the state’s food producers by offering land-backed mortgages in the $100,000 to $400,000 range, small-business loans of $60,000 to $125,000 and equipment loans of $20,000 to $40,000.

The federal approval marks the end of a four-year effort to make Maine Harvest a reality. The project was conceived in spring 2015 by former pension and investment firm executive Scott Budde, who will serve as the credit union’s chief executive.

In 2017, Maine Harvest recruited 15 organizers, including former Goodwill Industries of Northern New England President and CEO Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. The administration of her grandfather, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was responsible for passing the Federal Credit Union Act of 1934. The act created the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions to charter and regulate federal credit unions. The bureau was replaced in 1970 with the current National Credit Union Administration.

Maine Harvest also needed to raise $2.4 million in startup funds, which it accomplished in October.

 


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