Government Accountability Office report recommends continued analysis on Cuba

Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.

Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba.Camila Piñero, Center for Studies on the Cuban Economy, speaks with U.S. Co-op delegates during the 2016 Cooperative Forum in Cuba. Analyzing the impact of increased engagement between the U.S. and Cuba, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report last week confirming that increased engagement did in fact have an impact in Cuba, but more data is needed.

The GAO consulted with NCBA CLUSA for its expertise on the cooperative sector in Cuba during the writing of the report, including questions on the role of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.

The recommendations from the GAO report echo a memo released by NCBA CLUSA and the Cuba Study Group last week, urging continued analysis and reporting on Cuba before making any decisions about disengagement.

The GAO report examines what is known about the size and scope of the Cuban private sector, the effect of changes to U.S. legal and regulatory restrictions on the Cuban private sector and U.S. businesses, and the extent to which the U.S. government planned and implemented activities to increase U.S. engagement with the Cuban private sector and expand U.S. economic opportunities in Cuba.

Activities like the U.S. Cooperative leaders' delegation to Cuba in July 2016 encouraging private sector links and connections between the two countries contributed to increased engagement. The delegation visited as part of the work of the U.S. - Cuba Cooperative Working Group, lead by NCBA CLUSA.

Although the regulatory changes have created some new opportunities for U.S. businesses and the Cuban private sector, embargo restrictions and Cuban government barriers continue to limit U.S. – Cuba economic engagement, according the GAO report.

The GAO recommendation “that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, and should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector,” supports the recommendation NCBA CLUSA and the Cuba Study Group, along with 16 other organizations, made last week to the Trump Administration.

Read more about NCBA CLUSA and Cuba Study Group’s memo to the Trump Administration on Cuba.

Read the GAO Report: U.S. Policy Changes Increased Engagement with Private Sector, but Agency Information Collection Is Limited.

NCBA CLUSA joins Cuba Study Group urging President-elect Trump to continue engaging Cuba

Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.

Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.Leaders of the co-op sector in the U.S. visit Cuba in July 2016 as part of the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group.NCBA CLUSA joined the Cuba Study Group and 16 other organizations today, co-signing a letter addressed to the incoming Trump administration on Cuba. Titled U.S. Policy Towards Cuba: The Case for Engagement, the memo urges the president-elect to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of progress made in U.S. – Cuba relations.

The memo outlines the positive gains from U.S – Cuba engagement, including potential U.S. job creation and notes that the risks of disengagement could affect national security and human rights.

One gain is the growth of the Cuban private sector, which now accounts for 30 percent of the country’s workforce. The preferred business model in the Cuban private sector is cooperative businesses, which continue to need support and training. The first export to the U.S. from Cuba in over 50 years, arriving this week, will be from a cooperative charcoal business.

“Cooperative businesses and the private sector in Cuba will continue to grow through engagement between the U.S and Cuba. There is a rich history of the U.S. cooperative sector supporting cooperative business around the world and Cuba is no exception,” said Amy Coughenour Betancourt, head of NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group and COO for International Development. “With collaboration through groups like the U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group, cooperative sectors from both countries can only advance.”

NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. – Cuba Cooperative Working Group continues to foster cross-national cooperative business collaboration. Next month, NCBA CLUSA member Organic Valley will host Cuban co-op farmers during their MOSES Organic Farming training conference, a partnership that was formed out of the recent U.S. Co-op Delegation to Cuba last July.

Outlining these and other gains, this week's memo is part of an effort to demonstrate that constructive engagement is the best strategy for supporting the Cuban people while also boosting U.S. jobs and exports.

Read the full memo here.

NCBA CLUSA joins 80 NGOs and InterAction to outline priorities for incoming UN Secretary-General

UN Guterres 500 333 cd13fUN Guterres 500 333 cd13fUN Secretary-General António Guterres, left, is sworn in by Peter Thomson, president of the 71st session of the General Assembly. [photo: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency] In a letter organized by NGO alliance InterAction this week, NCBA CLUSA included its voice in welcoming the incoming United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. The letter, signed by more than 80 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), outlines the priorities of the NGO community and reiterates its support for Guterres' proactive agenda.

In the letter, NCBA CLUSA and other signatories highlight the following goals: re-establish the UN’s role as an impartial peace broker, restore respect for the norms that safeguard humanity—including freedom from fear and deprivation, and gender equality—and enhance the UN’s effectiveness and reputation through increased transparency and reforms.

"You stated that 2017 is to be the year of peace. For this to happen, it must be the year of action," the letter states, recommending "meaningful cooperation" among member states and the establishment of a "new way of working within the UN system" to propel that action. 

As the apex organization representing the U.S. cooperative sector to the International Cooperative Alliance, NCBA CLUSA has long worked alongside the UN to advance the goals of the global cooperative community. The UN has actively sought the inclusion of cooperatives since it named 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. "Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to both pursue economic viability and social responsibility, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during observances that year. 

The UN remains in a unique position to establish global standards and policy guidance that create an enabling environment for cooperative development. 

Click here to read the full letter

InterAction is an alliance of more than 180 NGO members—among them NCBA CLUSA—that partner, share best practices and combine their voices to achieve greater collective impact. InterAction convenes, leads and influences coordinated action to drive policies and practices that advance the elimination of extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace and ensure dignity for all people. 

USDA recruits new researchers for State Cooperative Statute Library

Coop Statute Header 500Coop Statute Header 500The State Cooperative Statute Library team has recruited three new researchers to help complete the project, which is still slated for official release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in early 2017.

Mike Traxinger, Corporate Attorney for Wheat Growers Cooperative in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a member of the American Agricultural Law Association Board of Directors, will help research Minnesota and/or North Dakota cooperative law.

Aleta Botts, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, will research Kentucky cooperative law.

Jason Wiener, principal at Jason Wiener|PC—a boutique legal and business consulting practice in Colorado that specializes in co-ops—is a member of the bar in Colorado, New York and Massachusetts and a founding member of NCBA CLUSA’s Cooperative Professional Network. Wiener will research New York and Massachusetts cooperative law.

A comprehensive, state-by-state review of co-op law, the State Cooperative Statute Library is expected to address the challenge of inconsistent legislative framework for cooperative development in the U.S. Currently, co-op statutes differ greatly from state to state. Nationwide, both incorporation legislation and enabling legislation are needed to create a legal environment conducive to cooperative growth. 

NCBA CLUSA has long advocated for a 50-state approach to cooperative law. The growing database is a critical step forward to identifying core pieces of good co-op law that can be adopted by other states, resulting in clearer and more consistent statutes nationwide. 

Current research on state co-op law is temporarily housed online by NCBA CLUSA. To receive a copy of a spreadsheet comparing laws state-by-state and provision-by-provision, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NCBA CLUSA and U.S. co-op community monitoring potential tax reform legislation in 2017

tax reform 500tax reform 500NCBA CLUSA and numerous cross-sector organizations representing the cooperative movement in the United States continue to meet, discuss and unite around the potential of Congress introducing fundamental tax reform legislation that advocates say could substantially impact cooperatives in the country.

While the exact language and timing of a prospective bill are currently unclear, all indications suggest that the incoming Trump Administration and the 115th Congress have identified fundamental tax reform among their key agenda items for 2017.

“Tax policy is fundamental to the way cooperatives operate in the national economy,” said Doug O’Brien, NCBA CLUSA’s Executive Vice President for Programs. “Now is the time for the cooperative community to come together to ensure that policymakers understand the tremendous benefits that cooperatives and their members provide to their communities and the nation.”

In general, cooperatives pay taxes and fees at various local, state and federal levels—the same applies for their member-owners. The principle underlying the federal income tax treatment of cooperatives and their patrons is that earnings derived by a cooperative from transacting business with and for its patrons are taxed once, rather than twice, at both the cooperative and patron levels.

This tax treatment is accomplished by allowing cooperatives to deduct certain distributions and allocations made to their patrons. Subchapter T therefore recognizes that the objective of cooperative business is not to generate earnings for the cooperative, but to increase the income of its member-owners. Other cooperative sectors—including credit unions, farmer cooperatives, mutual insurance and rural electric cooperatives—may have more industry-specific tax policy implications that could factor in future legislation.

While meetings on tax reform will continue and may intensify as the direction of federal tax legislation becomes clear, NCBA CLUSA and the U.S. co-op community will continue to encourage common messaging that unites us cross-sector and demonstrates the principles of cooperative business and the impact they have on communities nationwide.


Thu Feb 22 23:11:22 +0000 2018

RT @USFWC: The deadline is swiftly approaching to submit session for the #CoopIMPACT2018 Conference - get your ideas in ASAP!…
Thu Feb 22 23:09:02 +0000 2018

#HurricaneRecovery efforts are still ongoing in #PuertoRico - @NRECANews @NRECAintl donates generators to continue…
Thu Feb 22 23:00:41 +0000 2018

NCBA CLUSA member @CoBank commits $7.5 million to #rural private equity fund, bring their total investment to over…



This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


1775 Eye Street NW
8th Floor
Washington, DC 20006