It’s no secret that small farms, and small dairies in particular, face a broad array of challenges. Accessing needed capital is at the top of the list. When purchasing or taking over existing farms, young farmers typically do not have the equity or credit history required by conventional lenders. Matt Ouellette grew up on his family’s dairy farm and has worked on dairies his entire life, but despite years of experience, could not secure financing from traditional sources.
In response to his request for assistance, CEI led a multi-party financing deal to enable the organized transition of an operating dairy from a retiring farmer to Matt and his family. Dirt Capital Partners, an entity that invests in farmland throughout the Northeast to promote land access and security for farmers, and keep farmland in productive use, purchased the farm and barns. CEI provided technical assistance and financed Matt’s purchase of dairy cows with a partial loan guarantee from the USDA Farm Services Agency.
“People should know where their food comes from. I grew up on a farm and have seen the land change so much around me. Farmland is so important to Maine and I want to do my part to keep at least this one piece as a farm instead of subdivision.”
–MATT OUELLETTE, Owner, Ouellette Family Dairy
The unique structure of the financing will position Ouellette Family Dairy as a model for financing the transfer of sustainable, viable dairy farms to the next generation throughout Maine.