Frequently Asked Questions About Natural Resources Development

Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

Do you have grants for farmers?
We do not offer grants for farmers. However, we can point you to other grant sources and assist in pursuing those opportunities.

What kind of financing do you offer to farmers or other value chain businesses?
CEI offers a range of financing options, from term loans with flexible repayment plans, to deferred or interest-only loans to equity investments. Loans range in size from $10,000 to $500,000 or greater. CEI can also coordinate additional sources of capital to complete a larger financing package.

What geography do you cover?
All of Maine. We also have ability to finance certain projects across New England.

What do you mean by a ‘food systems approach’?
We take a broad, inclusive approach to developing local food economies. Our foundation is built on farm financing, but we also work to connect and develop markets for Maine products. So we work along the entire value (or supply) chain with processors, distributors, and value-added manufacturers, as well as with retailers such as independent grocers. By working with all of the businesses that in sum create a food system, we are able to give lift to the whole.

What about fisheries?
Fisheries are a significant part of Maine’s food system. CEI has a separate fisheries program to bring additional focus and expertise to these businesses. We interact regularly and often work together on specific projects.  Please see the Fisheries FAQs for more information.

Do you refinance debt?
Yes, in specific instances we can restructure existing debt as a part of a new financing package.

What are some of your program focus areas?
We have several focus areas: farming, processing, food hubs, and independent grocers. However, these are not exclusive. For instance, financing and technical assistance is also available to enterprises and nonprofit organizations that support the local agricultural economy, such as food banks or farm-to-institution (schools, jails, hospitals, assisted living facilities, etc.) groups.

How do you provide business planning or technical assistance and what does it cost?
Our business planning services are free. We coordinate a team-based approach in collaboration with the many existing business or sector resources in place across Maine. For instance, for farm businesses we work closely with the Maine Small Business Development Center, all of the USDA agencies (FSA, RD, NRCS), Cooperative Extension, etc. The team that gets built around your business will depend on what type of business it is.

Fisheries & Working Waterfront

What is the interest rate on a fisheries loan?
The rate and terms of a loan are determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to: the amount of debt an individual is carrying, their credit history, a person’s specific financial situation, the payback timeframe established for the loan, etc.  CEI also often lends our funds from a number of different funding sources and many have predetermined rates and/or terms that must be adhered to.

Can I apply for a grant for my working waterfront property?
We ask that interested parties first take a look at the Maine Working Waterfront Protection Program website to understand the general premise of how the program works (www.wwapp.org).  After reviewing the website content, we are happy to have a phone conversation about the particulars of a certain property or project idea.