At the January meeting, MPB Executive Director Don Flannery shared an overview of the annual PMIF report which is sent to Governor Janet Mills and ACF Commissioner Amanda Beal.
From the time of initial authorization in 1981 through the 2019 fiscal year, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Potato Board have administered the Potato Marketing Improvement Fund (PMIF), provided PMIF staff, and coordinated loan activities with the Finance Authority of Maine.
In 2013, the Legislature transferred administration responsibility and staff to the Maine Potato Board (MPB). The MPB has continued to operate the PMIF program for the benefit and improvement of the Maine potato industry. The Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry continues to provide the final approval of all loan proposals and potato industry infrastructure improvement grants.
Since its inception in 1983, the PMIF has invested over $28.1 million in 350 potato storage or packing and handling projects. This investment, combined with $23.4 million in commercial lender financing and $13.2 million in owner equity, has resulted in over $64.7 million in investments in Maine potato industry storage and packing facilities and packing and handling equipment. The success of PMIF is a direct result of the strength of its partnerships with participating lenders, borrowers, and the agricultural community.
In 2019 the MPB and the MDACF were able to complete the rule changes to the PMIF program that will benefit the potato industry in the future. The new Support Facilities Loan will help finance buildings and other structures which augment the production of potatoes and related rotation crops. The new Value-Added Loan Program is designed to help finance the acquisition, construction, or improvement of facilities and equipment to add value to farm production directly related to potato production.
The infrastructure investments financed by PMIF have helped position the Maine potato industry to compete with other U.S., Canadian, and international potato producing areas. Technical standards adopted for PMIF financed storage facilities help assure long-term storage quality of Maine potatoes to meet customer demands. Maine produced seed potatoes are among the best in North America, and Maine-grown processing potatoes supply local, national, and multi-national processors with high-quality raw product.
The MPB and MDACF continue to foster and support the on-going improvement of all sectors of the Maine potato industry infrastructure, including growers, processors, and related entities.