MassDevelopment Launches Loan Guarantee Program to Benefit Commonwealth's Cranberry Growers
June 20, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)
To help the Commonwealth’s cranberry growers, a quintessential Massachusetts industry, MassDevelopment is launching a loan guarantee program to help these businesses upgrade their bogs and meet market demand for Massachusetts cranberries. MassDevelopment will partner with banks that lend to this industry and guarantee up to $500,000 per farm, up to 50 percent of the outstanding principal. The support of a backstop guarantee from MassDevelopment will enable some growers to qualify for bank financing that would otherwise have been unavailable. A recent report from the Massachusetts Cranberry Revitalization Task Force highlighted the need for this program, which would help the cranberry industry by financing cranberry bog upgrades include leveling, improving irrigation systems, and planting hybrid vines to produce a larger cranberry for juice and dried cranberries.
“Cranberries are Massachusetts’ number one agricultural food product, and we are thrilled MassDevelopment is partnering with local lending institutions to provide a loan guarantee program for cranberry growers,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, and Co-Chair of the Cranberry Revitalization Task Force, Matthew A. Beaton. “This loan guarantee program will benefit cranberry growers with bog renovations and improvements allowing for more efficient production and cultivation of the larger, higher-yield fruits that yield a large percentage of the market share.”
The Cranberry Revitalization Task Force was created in FY’16 Budget Amendment #13, filed by Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and Representative Bill Straus (D-Mattapoisett), to explore short- and long-term solutions to address the problems facing the cranberry industry.
“I have been pleased to work with MassDevelopment, my colleagues, and industry experts to not only assess challenges facing the cranberry industry, but to put forth concrete solutions to help growers revitalize their bogs,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues. “As an industry vitally important to Southeastern Mass., this loan guarantee program encourages a partnership between cranberry growers and banks to enhance the economic sustainability and viability of the cranberry industry in our region and the state.”
“Cranberry growers are some of the Commonwealth’s original food manufacturers, using more than 14,000 acres of working cranberry bogs to produce the top agricultural commodity crop in Massachusetts,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “Thank you to Senator Rodrigues and his staff for highlighting this issue and taking the time to convene a State House meeting with key players to develop this solution. We’re pleased to work with him, the Cranberry Growers Association, and local banks to support this crucial industry.”
“These loan guarantees are the result of a collaborative effort between industry and government; MassDevelopment’s actions are a necessary step in responding to the pressures that local growers have faced in recent years,” said Representative Bill Straus. “I believe that access to this program will help a number of cranberry growers access capital to improve their operations and be able to better compete in this market.”
“The cranberry industry is especially crucial to Massachusetts, where it is responsible for about 7,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in annual revenue,” said Representative Paul Schmid (D-Westport). “I am incredibly thankful for the initiative promoted by MassDevelopment and my colleagues to implement this innovative way to aid cranberry growers so that they may continue providing economic benefits and growth in the Commonwealth.”
“Loan guarantee programs provide greater assurances for financial institutions and, in this case, will allow those financial institutions to provide solutions and support to cranberry growers,” said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With that support, growers can accomplish critical bog renovations and improvements, and we are grateful to MassDevelopment for taking an interest in the cranberry industry and Massachusetts agriculture.”
“As Chairman of the Renovation Committee, it was critical to provide the financial tools necessary to stimulate renovation within the cranberry industry,” said Matthew W. Beaton, President and Owner of Sure-Cran Services. “By working with MassDevelopment and utilizing its loan guarantee program, cranberry growers now have the access to capital necessary to begin renovating to higher-yielding varieties to compete with other cranberry growing regions.”
“2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of commercial cranberry production in North America, originating here in the Commonwealth,” said Brian Wick, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association. “Partnering with MassDevelopment on a renovation related loan program will enable Massachusetts cranberry growers to build a strong foundation for the next 200 years of cranberry production. I’m excited to see the results of this public/private partnership, helping to insure the sustainability of this industry that is such an integral part of the fabric of southeastern Massachusetts.”
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2015, MassDevelopment financed or managed 294 projects generating investment of more than $2.5 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create about 6,100 jobs and build or rehabilitate about 2,000 residential units.