Today, NCBA CLUSA led an organizational letter to Appropriations Committee leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate urging the committees to keep the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2020 allocation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s competitive Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. The Senate version (S. 2522) provides $6.8 million for RCDG, a $1 million increase from both the House of Representatives’ FY20 allocation and the final funding level for Fiscal Year 2019.
The only domestic program dedicated to the startup, growth and innovation of—and conversion to—cooperative enterprise, RCDG has preserved or created hundreds of local businesses in rural America, impacting close to 50,000 member-owners and creating more than 5,800 jobs. Providing cooperative developers with the resources they need to provide technical assistance to the cooperatives that enrich and empower rural America is “imperative,” the letter states.
This week’s coalition letter also thanks both chambers for including language that recognizes the importance of cooperatives and cooperative development in their respective versions of the bill.
Earlier this year, for the first time, a group of eight Senators led by Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting $8 million for the RCDG program. While the Senate version falls short of this $8 million request, the $1 million increase is significant, marking the first substantial increase in funding in recent years. RCDG funding has remained level at approximately $5.8 million for five fiscal years.
We strongly encourage cooperators to share this letter with your U.S. elected officials. To find your U.S. Representatives, visit www.house.gov; find your U.S. Senators at www.senate.gov. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on how to get involved.