The country's first credit union for farmers is poised to help small farms across state

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UNITY, Maine (WABI) - The country's first federal credit union for farmers opened Tuesday in Unity.

Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union officals say they saw an important financial need for small farms around the state.

"We heard a lot about financing gaps where people were needing financing, especially around small farms and food producers, but had trouble getting it, and we did some research into why that was the case and then launched the effort into what's behind us," said President and CEO Scott Budde.

Maine Harvest hopes to partner with more than 100 farms in the state and give them another option for receiving loans.

"It makes a lot of sense for small farmers. The farm service agency only offers mortgages to first time farm buyers, so when you're ready for your second farm, there's no where really to turn unless you're super profitable or have a bunch of money. And so having another financial institution that can give mortgages and small equipment loans is going to be invaluable," says Jesse Dowling, owner of Fuzzy Udder Creamery.

"Agriculture has its own specific challenges as a business. You have to spend all your money up front, you have to wait for the weather, and then you have your harvest and hopefully income. So it's a little bit different rhythm than a typical business would have. And it's important to have a financial institution that understands that and is focused on supporting that segment of the economy," says Senator Angus King.

In attendance was Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Franklin Roosevelt, who signed the Federal Credit Union Act in 1934, which created the credit union structure nationwide.

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