Only two years after gaining its charter, Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union has announced it will be merging with other Five County Credit Union in Bath, Maine. The credit union opened its doors in May 2020 to serve small farms and agricultural businesses in need. The credit unions spent over a decade fundraising and working towards getting a charter, the success of which was a much-publicized event.
At the time of its opening, CUToday reported that Maine Harvest would “serve more than 1,000 members and become a primary financing source for more than 100 small farms and food businesses – deploying $12 million in loans within the first six years.”
But only a year and a half in, the credit union began seeking a merger partner and, as of 2022, reported only 78 members and a loss of $72,330 on it’s March 30th call report. Maine Harvest CEO and President Scott Budde cited Maine Harvest’s inability to offer high loan amounts and limited products as potential reasons behind the merge.
“Our farm and food producer members are looking for a broader range of products, including offering higher loan amounts,” he told MaineBiz.com. “We proved that a credit union can help meet the critical financing needs of Maine’s farms and food producers, and we are looking forward to working with Five County to expand our offerings and deepen our mission.”
The NCUA limits what products and loan services de novos are able to offer for their first few years, which many argue puts them at a disadvantage right out of the gate. For Maine Harvest, this seems to have been a factor.
Going forward, Budde will serve as chief strategy officer of Five County Credit Union with Julie Marquis from Five County as President and CEO.
“Five County has a long history of looking for new ways to serve our members,” Julie Marquis, president and CEO of Five County Credit Union, told MaineBiz.com. “We see the growth in local food production in Maine and it will be great having Maine Harvest’s expertise to meet this financial need.”
The credit union merger is waiting for regulatory and member approval before going forward.