Local Assistance for Farmers and Food Businesses in Washington County

Capital Formation

Maine Farmland Trust Land Access Loan Program

MFT’s Land Access Loan Program provides loans for farmers to help them buy land, with priority given to beginning farmers of limited means, initially targeting Washington County. The program combines technical assistance and business planning with the opportunity to obtain financing for a land purchase. For more information contact Erica Buswell, Project Manager, Land Protection and Beginning Farmers at (207) 338-6575 or ebuswell@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Farm Credit East

Serves people involved in the business of agriculture, including farmers, nursery and greenhouse operators, forest products businesses, fishermen, lobstermen, part-time growers, agribusinesses and country home owners.

A full range of credit services, financial services that enhance productivity and profitability, Patronage dividend program, which typically reduces the average interest rate. Contact Pete Hallowell at 207-764-6431 or email: FarmCreditEast_PresqueIsle_Admin_WCMS@farmcrediteast.com

Slow Money Maine

An intentionally inclusive, diverse network representing many sectors and communities in Maine, with a focus on supporting local sustainable food systems, SMM catalyzes the flow of funds and technical assistance to a wide array of food businesses. – See more at: http://www.slowmoneymaine.org/

Sunrise Ag Microloan

SAM targets Washington County-based commercial small farms and food producers seeking capital, as well as the county’s farmers’ markets, buying clubs, retail businesses, and food pantries. The goal of this fund is to increase economic activity and capital access for local food producers. These microloans help local foods businesses grow and thrive.  They protect and create jobs, as well as stabilization the local food sources. Loan amounts range from $500 to $10,000. Contact SCEC Program Manager for Communications and Development, Tanya Rucosky at 207-255-0983 or email trucosky@sunrisecounty.org for more information.

Unorganized Territories Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

For businesses located in the Unorganized Territories, Washington County Government offers grants and a revolving loan program through the tax increment financing (TIF) district it established for the Unorganized Territories (UTs) in Washington County with deferred property taxes from the Stetson I & II wind-farms outside of Danforth. A portion of the wind-farm property taxes returns to Washington County each year for use in economic development for the 34 Unorganized Territories. The TIF Program includes a nature-based tourism fund, a revolving loan fund, an economic development planning fund, and a capital project fund. For- and non-profit businesses, individuals and other organizations may apply for funding through these programs. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and then referred to the County Commissioners for final approval. Please go to http://www.washingtoncountymaine.com/index.php/business-economy/tax-increment-financing-tif-district  for more information, application forms and guidelines. Contact SCEC Program Manager Susan Hatton, who will assist you with the TIF process. Susan may be reached by email at shatton@sunrisecounty.org or call 207-949-0336.

Farmer Veteran Coalition Maine

FVC-ME helps veterans find sustainable careers and places on local farms. The FMV-ME offers the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund http://www.farmvetco.org/about-us/our-programs/farming-fellowship/. The Fellowship is designed to assist veterans advance their careers in agriculture. Awards range from $1,000 to $5,000 and are used to purchase equipment or supplies that will support your farm business.

Maine Farms for the Future Program

The Maine Farms for the Future Program (FFF) is a competitive grant program that provides selected farms with business planning assistance and investment support. The Phase 1 grant allows selected farmers to research ideas for change on their farm and work with a certified business counselor to write an investment-grade business plan. The Phase 2 cash grant and/or low-interest rate through the Agricultural Marketing Loan Fund, assists farmers with implementing the project(s) described in their Phase 1 Business Plan. Contact Program Administrator, stephanie.gilbert@maine.gov  (207) 287-7520 Research Assistant, kimbalie.lawrence@maine.gov (207) 287-3491


University of Maine Cooperative Extension

UMaine Extension gives local residents access to the resources and expertise of the University of Maine. Through educational programs, publications, and events, U Maine Extension delivers unbiased, research-based information to Washington County citizens. They can answer questions on a wide array of topics. Browse their website (http://extension.umaine.edu/).

Business Planning

Maine Farmland Trust Farm Business Development

Farm Business Development (FBD) helps farmers develop business plans through its works directly with farmers to enhance their ability to make business decisions and choices about their farm operations.

FBD Farm Teams coordinate experts who work in teams with farmers to identify and solve problems, develop new ventures, and help farms in turn-around. In most cases there is no cost to the farmer. Complete the application and Farmer Self Assessment to see if you qualify. Send both forms to: Elizabeth Sprague, Business Development Manager, Farm Viability at  esprague@mainefarmlandtrust.org Or mail to Maine Farmland Trust /Farm Business Development, 97 Main Street, Belfast, Maine 04915.

The Women’s Business Center at CEI

The Women’s Business Center at CEI provides women and men with a comprehensive program of personalized business advising, classes, and workshops to support and advance entrepreneurs looking to start, manage, grow or finance businesses of any size.  Business advising is free of charge and available in-person or by phone.  Contact Certified Business Advisor Ruth Cash-Smith at ruth.cash-smith@ceimaine.org or by calling 207-255-0983.

Legacy Planning

Land for Good

Farm transfer is a critical issue for thousands of farm families in New England and nationally. Farm transfer is the process of passing a farm business and/or farm property from one generation or owner to the next. At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition. Farmers need transfer planning information and support, especially when there is no identified successor. Whatever the situation, it’s never too early – or too late – to start planning for this major transition. Contact Jo Barrett, Maine Field Agent, jo@landforgood.org or  http://landforgood.org/programs/farm-legacy/


Eastern Maine Development Agency (EMDC)

EMDC houses the local program manager for the National Farmworker Jobs Program.  This program can help farmers connect to workers, and support the cost of worker training.  Contact Program Manager Chris Huh at chuh@emdc or call 207-610-1521.


Healthy Acadia

Healthy Acadia hosts the Washington County Community Food Council (WCCFC) an action-based coalition that brings together stakeholders from diverse, food-related areas to monitor, evaluate, and improve the performance of our local food system. The WCCFC aims to increase food production capacity, expand access to healthy food to all Washington County residents, disseminate resources and link key stakeholders and growers together in order to promote stronger collaborations and improve visibility of existing efforts. Contact Regina Grabrovac, Food System Coordinator at our Washington County office by phone at (207) 255-3741 or email regina@healthyacadia.org

Sunrise County Food Alliance

SCFA is a group of Washington County based producers whose vision is to create a year round local food supply through promotion, education and networking efforts. Meetings are held monthly October through April. For more information contact Ellen Johnson at 207-454-3364.

Washington County: One Community

WC:OC hosts the Washington County Community Food Council (WCCFC) aims to increase food production capacity, expand access to healthy food to all Washington County residents, disseminate resources and link key stakeholders and growers together in order to promote stronger collaborations and improve visibility of existing efforts. T Contact Regina Grabrovac, Food System Coordinator at Washington County: One Community by phone at (207) 255-3741 or email rgrabrovac@wc-oc.org

Maine AgrAbility

The Maine AgrAbility project is dedicated to helping farmers, fishermen and forest workers work safely and more productively. We offer education for agricultural workers whose lifestyle and business have been impacted by a disability. We provide training and education to health care providers, agricultural professionals, emergency response agencies, and other community groups about agricultural workers with disabilities. https://extension.umaine.edu/agrability/

Organic Designation Assistance

Organic Certification Federal Cost Share Programs

This is the 75% (capped at $750 per scope) annual cost share of certification fees that the State of Maine disperses.  There is funding for cost share for both processors and growers this year!   Contact: Debbie Davis Maine Department of Agriculture 28 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333 (207) 287-3891 or email. Debbie.Davis@maine.gov