The U.S. Congress today passed a major federal spending bill that preserves core funding for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program, a key advocacy priority for NCBA CLUSA pivotal to the interests of rural cooperative enterprise.
The Omnibus Appropriations Act secures $5.8 million in grants for Rural Cooperative Development Centers in fiscal year 2016. The $1.15 trillion bill, which funds federal agencies through September 30, 2016, is now headed to the White House for signing.
“NCBA CLUSA has diligently advocated for consistent RCDG funding on behalf of our members and co-ops across the country,” said Judy Ziewacz, NCBA CLUSA interim president and CEO. “We are pleased that appropriations for fiscal year 2016 preserve the only federal program dedicated to advancing the cooperative businesses that help America’s rural communities prosper.”
NCBA CLUSA actively monitors federal budget negotiations year around to ensure consistent RCDG funding levels. After a call to consolidate several rural development programs in 2014, NCBA CLUSA led a successful effort to restore RCDG funding.
NCBA CLUSA’s advocacy efforts at the time included directly engaging with every member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and following up with close to 50 other congressional offices that heard directly from their local cooperative development centers. NCBA CLUSA also distributed a request letter and written testimony arguing for the preservation of RCDG funding.
The primary objective of the RCDG program is to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals and businesses in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses. Grants are awarded competitively and on an annual basis to Cooperative Development Centers that, in turn, provide technical assistance to individuals and co-ops. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development administers the grants.