Finger Lakes cheesemaker hopes to rebuild with crowdsourced loans

A ten-year-old cheesemaking business in the Ithaca area had to destroy about $100,000 worth of cheese due to changes in FDA requirements, and hopes to start fresh with loans from community members.

Nancy Taber Richards. Photo from Kiva.

Nancy Taber Richards. Photo from Kiva.

Nancy Taber Richards of Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese is using Kiva, a non-profit lending platform, to seek $10,000 in capital to help “produce some income-generating inventory at a neighboring plant” while working to restart her own production.

“The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2012 led to sweeping changes in policy for all food businesses,” Nancy says. “As a producer and consumer myself I believe regulatory oversight helps assure product quality, but unfortunately, regulations are generally geared toward large-scale processors, and can easily overwhelm the resources of small businesses like mine.”

With just under a day remaining in her week-long Kiva campaign, Nancy has secured over 70% of the $10,000 total loan she’s seeking, with the help of 104 small lenders. “This is a loan, to be repaid, not a gift,” she stresses. Lenders would be repaid a portion of their loan each month over a 36-month period.

“As one of the first artisan cheese producers in this area, I was overwhelmed by the moral and economic support coming from farmers-markets, restaurant chefs, and vineyards who were thrilled to have some great tasting local cheese,” she says.

“I firmly believe that a small-scale cheese production facility can thrive and support a small, pasture-based dairy, providing a livelihood for us as a family, and creating a bridge for the increasingly urban consumer to connect with a farm while maintaining open space in a environmentally responsible manner.”

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