Two Well-Known Credit Unions Merge to Expand Services to Underserved Farms and Food Businesses in Maine

Five County CU has announced the creation of Maine Harvest Solutions, a new department offering specialized financial services to farmers and food entrepreneurs—a historically underbanked sector in the United States. The department will offer financing for land, equipment, and businesses, as well as mortgages to farms and related businesses. These loans and other financial services strengthen Maine’s food economy and help preserve working farms and farmland. The new department is one of the many changes resulting from Five County CU’s December 2022 merger with Maine Harvest FCU, which earned national distinction for being the first credit union in America to specialize in agricultural lending.

“The merger with Maine Harvest FCU embodies our mission to create meaningful financial solutions for Maine’s hardest working population,” shared Julie Marquis, CEO at Five County CU. “I’ve seen the power of our work in action—providing financial opportunity changes lives.”

Chartered in 2019, Maine Harvest FCU aimed to close the estimated $186 million financing gap in Maine’s agricultural sector. The credit union opened its doors less than six months before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the pandemic presented numerous challenges, we proved that loan demand in this sector exists and that these are great farms and business to work with,” said Scott Budde, Maine Harvest FCU Co-Founder. “We also simply needed to make larger loans to our members. We approached Five County CU because its mission aligned with ours and it felt like a natural advancement of our work.”

“Agriculture is a vital sector of Maine’s economy, and access to capital is a major limiting factor in the sector’s growth and success,” said Amanda Beal, Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. “I anticipate this merger will have a very positive impact on farms and food businesses throughout the state”

The merger will expand financial offerings within Maine’s agricultural space by enabling larger loan sizes and a broader range of services. In addition, Five County CU will cover closing costs for agricultural real estate borrowers up to $2,000 and provide $20,000 in PFAS assistance through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and Maine Farmland Trust. Both programs were funded at the time of the merger through the equity of Maine Harvest FCU.

“It is significant that these two credit unions, founded sixty years apart, share such similar commitments to improving the lives of everyday, hard-working Mainers,” said Todd Mason, President/CEO at the Maine Credit Union League and Synergent. “I have confidence that their combined strength and specialized focus will have a significant impact on improving Maine’s economy.”