US legislators maintain funding for Rural Cooperative Development

The bill provides $5.8m for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) programme administered by the US Department for Agriculture

Proposals to cut the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) programme have been rejected by the US House Appropriations Committee.

On 4 June the committee approved the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill on a vote of 29 to 21. The bill provides $5.8m (£4.56m) for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) programme administered by the US Department for Agriculture (USDA).

Through this programme, co-operative development centres working in rural communities nationwide are awarded funding to assist individuals or businesses in the start-up, expansion or operational improvement of rural co-operative enterprises.

The bill will also increase grants for co-operative agreements for appropriate technology transfers for rural areas (ATTRA), value-added agricultural product market development, and Agriculture Innovation Centers.

“The committee recognises the important role that co-operatives play in the nation’s rural economy and the continued need to fund established and successful development centres throughout the country,” reads the bill, which is awaiting action by the full House of Representatives.

According to apex body National Cooperative Business Association, between 2008 and 2017, co-operative development centres across the nation used RCDG funds to generate or save nearly 15,000 jobs, incorporate over 1,000 businesses and create more than 4,000 co-operative housing units in rural America.

The Trump administration had suggested to decrease USDA spending by 15% to US $3.6bn (£2.83bn).

House Appropriations Committee chairwoman Nita Lowey said: “The Fiscal Year 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill rejects the President’s misguided budget and instead invests in important initiatives for the people.

“The bill would reduce hunger at home and abroad, support rural development and our farmers, and ensure the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is properly funded to meet the growing needs of regulating our food, medicines, and more.”

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