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June 3, 2022

Two Maine credit unions agree to merge, with aim to serve more farmers

Side by side portraits Courtesy / Five County Credit Union Julie Marquis, left, president and CEO of Five County Credit Union, will continue in that role after a merger with Harvest Federal Credit Union, while Harvest President and CEO Scott Budde will be chief strategy officer of Five County Credit Union after the merger.

Less than three years after Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union launched as the nation's first to focus solely on agriculture, the Unity-based institution has agreed to merge with the much larger Five County Credit Union, of Bath, the companies announced Friday.

Harvest FCU, chartered in 2019, has $2.9 million in assets and 81 members, while Five County was chartered in 1956, has around $365 million in assets, and serves 27,400 members.

The merger process began with talks initiated by Maine Harvest late last summer, according to a Five County spokeswoman, and is subject to member and regulatory approval.

The companies said they are joining forces to expand the range of financial services for Maine's farmers and food producers. Under the agreement, the combined entity will retain the Five County name and headquarters in Bath. The combined workforce will number 126.

"Five County has a long history of looking for new ways to serve our members," said Julie Marquis, president and CEO of Five County Credit Union, who will continue in the same role going forward. "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."

She also noted that Maine Harvest has shown that credit unions are well-poised to serve the agricultural sector, with loans to farms and food producers and deposits from members "who care deeply about building a better food system in Maine."

Scott Budde, president and CEO of Maine Harvest FCU, will serve as chief strategy officer of Five County Credit Union after the merger.

"Our farm and food producer members are looking for a broader range of products, including offering higher loan amounts," he said. "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."

Back in October 2019 when Harvest opened for business, it set out to lend $12 million to 100 farmers and food producers in its first six years, financed by 100 members. 

Todd Mason, president of the Maine Credit Union League, welcomed Friday's merger announcement.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Maine’s economy, and the proposed merger between Five County Credit Union and Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union will help ensure the state’s small farms and food producers have continued access to the business and lending solutions they need to grow and thrive," he told Mainebiz.

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