The Greater Berkshire Agriculture Fund and Salisbury Bank and Trust Company today announced a loan fund to assist farms and farm-related businesses that might otherwise have difficulty getting loans. Eligible businesses may apply for loans in amounts of up to $75,000. These funds will help farmers and related businesses finance capital investments and meet operating costs.
“Considering the growing consumer interest in buying locally produced foods, there’s never been a better time to support local agriculture. At Salisbury Bank, we understand that farmers’ futures depend on their ability to grow their businesses to meet the needs of the market. That's why we’re delighted to help support The Carrot Project in its efforts to create small-farm financing solutions,” said Geof Talcott, Salisbury Bank senior vice president and chief lending officer.
“We are thrilled to launch the Greater Berkshire Agriculture Fund. It will provide capital and technical assistance to small and midsized farms and farm-related businesses that use sustainable or organic practices and serve local markets,” explained Dorothy Suput, founder and executive director of The Carrot Project. They initiated the fund with Berkshire County residents and Advisory Board members of The Carrot Project, Joel Millonzi and Neil Chrisman.
Neil Chrisman states that, “The project is designed to help meet the growing demand for local food. It starts with lending, but as we move forward we will seek innovative approaches that integrate financing and related strategies to help drive development of a strong, sustainable agriculture and food economy.”
Greater Berkshire Agriculture Fund (GBAF) loans can be used for working capital, capital needs such as equipment or buildings, operations, or other improvements for production or value-added enterprises. Eligible farmers report annual revenues of less than $499,999, and must be engaged in cultivation of farm, forest, or aquatic products. The primary purpose of eligible farm-related businesses should be to process, add value to, store, or act as distributors for local agricultural products. Such businesses would include, but are not limited to: cheese-makers, butchers, produce delivery companies, and agricultural cooperatives.
The GBAF serves businesses located in the four-county region that includes Berkshire County, Massachusetts, Litchfield County, Connecticut, and Columbia and Dutchess counties in New York.
The Carrot Project is a nonprofit organization, based in Massachusetts, dedicated to creating financing solutions for small and mid-sized farms, limited-resource farms, and those using ecologically sound practices. Its program model is designed to incubate and establish alternative financing programs in combination with business technical assistance. The Carrot Project works collaboratively with private investors, lenders, and farm-support organizations to help rebuild the farming system to offer stability to local farmers, provide healthful food for citizens, replenish the environment, and benefit regional and local economies. In addition to GBAF, it operates programs with lending partners in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.
For more information about the program, email Benneth Phelps at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 413.650.6151.
Salisbury Bank is a full-service community bank headquartered in Lakeville, Connecticut; it presently operates full-service branches in Canaan, Lakeville, Salisbury, and Sharon, Connecticut; South Egremont and Sheffield, Massachusetts; and Dover Plains and Millerton, New York. The bank has been serving families and businesses for more than 160 years, and offers a full range of consumer and business banking products and services, as well as trust and investment services.