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February 5, 2018

Potato industry seeks low-interest loan boost

Photo / Mainebiz archives
Photo / Mainebiz archives
A bill being drafted by Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash is designed to help the Maine Potato Board offer lower-interest loans to Maine potato farmers.

Senate Democratic Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash has submitted LR 2828, "An Act To Amend the Law Regarding the Interest Rate for State Loans under the Potato Marketing Improvement Fund," to help the Maine Potato Board offer lower-interest loans to Maine potato farmers.

Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, told an Aroostook County-based writer for the Bangor Daily News, Jen Lynds, that the loan program, in place since the 1980s, has helped potato farmers build valuable infrastructure such as potato houses.

The interest rate is fixed at 5% for the term of the loan. Jackson's bill will attempt to amend the law so that farmers can access low interest state loans under the PMIF.

According to the Finance Authority of Maine, which administers the program in conjunction with the Maine Potato Board and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, the Potato Marketing Improvement Fund Program provides low-interest financing to help Maine potato growers and packers improve the quality and marketing of their potatoes. Potato Marketing Improvement funds may also be used to improve the economic viability of the potato industry.

Funds may be used for:

  • New construction or improvements to storage and packing facilities.
  • Purchase of packing, sizing, washing and drying equipment.

Loan amounts for new facilities may be 45% of total project cost for projects costing more than $50,000 up to $750,000; for projects costing more than $750,000, proceeds may be used to fund 25% of project costs above $750,000; 10% cash or in-kind equity is required.

For retrofit projects: 55% of total project cost for projects costing up to $50,000.

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