Compromising across the aisle, the Senate passed the Federal Omnibus budget to extend federal funding on Thursday, securing funding for cooperative development programs domestically and internationally. The bill is on its way to be signed by President Trump.
The Senate passed the $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would keep the government running until September by a vote of 79-18. The House passed the bill Wednesday in a 309-118 vote, with four members abstaining.
But with new negotiations and potential cuts on the horizon, co-ops are gearing up to defend funding critical to their members and the economy. The relatively modest federal spending on cooperative development ensures funding for programs that support cooperatives and impact the lives of many in the U.S. and abroad, but also sets the stage for continued fights over its long-term viability in future federal budgets.
NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy Alan Knapp emphasized the need to prioritize these funds for the 2018 fiscal year.
“From the development of hundreds of businesses and creation of thousands of jobs for rural towns in America by the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) Program to the food security and resilience needs of the developing world from programs administered by USAID and USDA, cooperatives and their principles continue to build a better world,” Knapp said. “We are committed to preserving these investments.”
While this budget continues many successful programs impacting co-ops through this budget year, the proposed 31 percent cut to international development outlined in the federal budget for 2018 slashes many vital development assistance accounts.
“We must ensure development stands alongside diplomacy and defense as part of our nation’s national security strategy and cooperative principles help support many developing international communities,” Knapp said.
The Federal Budget secures funds through September 2017. Here’s a breakdown of how the budget will affect cooperatives:
• The Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) Program will receive level funding of $26,550,000—of which $5.8 million will be available to the USDA in grants to cooperative development centers nationwide. Administered by the USDA’s Rural Development/Rural Business – Cooperative Services Program, RCDG exists to improve the economic condition of rural America by assisting in the startup, expansion and operational improvement of rural cooperatives. Continued funding of this grant program may be in jeopardy beyond this fiscal year as the proposed budget blueprint offered by President Trump calls for the elimination of discretionary programs administered by USDA’s Rural Business – Cooperative Service due to its assessment they are duplicative and underperforming.
• The Cooperative Development Program will receive a $1 million increase over FY2016 funding, totaling $12 million. The cooperative development program is a competitive grant program that responds to the needs of local cooperatives internationally by utilizing the expertise and resources of long-established U.S. cooperative organizations, their members and volunteers. The program focuses on developing, implementing and extending workable solutions to key development challenges and opportunities such as reducing poverty and hunger, raising member equity participation as a major element of self-reliance and reducing dependency that can result from external assistance, among others. Learn about NCBA CLUSA’s Cooperative Development Program projects here.
• Feed the Future The U.S. Government’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative—authorized by the Global Food Security Act of 2016—will receive level funding of $1,000,600,000. By equipping people with the knowledge and tools to feed themselves, Feed the Future addresses the root causes of poverty and hunger, helping people end their reliance on aid and creating important opportunities for a new generation of young people, while building a more stable world. Cooperatives are identified as key stakeholders and their expertise is leveraged as part of a comprehensive strategy to accomplish the program’s objectives in the authorizing statute. NCBA CLUSA implements the Feed the Future Yaajeende project, which reduced malnutrition in children under five by 31 in project area villages in Senegal.
• Food for Peace, Title II will receive a $116,000,000 decrease over FY2016 funding totaling $1,600,000,000 (including a one-time $134,000,000 increase to address the famine crisis around the world). By monitoring regional food insecurity, this program works with field-based partners using various program tools and approaches to save lives, tackle chronic undernutrition and help the most vulnerable break the cycle of poverty and hunger. These programs bring together relief and development efforts so that humanitarian assistance not only saves lives, but also contributes to long-term benefits for local communities. See how humanitarian aid and long-term development strategies, like co-ops, are supporting co-op farmers in Madagascar.
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