On March 10, Congress passed legislation to fund the government through the remainder of fiscal 2022. In the bill, co-op programs received level or slightly increased funding.
In particular, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Cooperative Development Grant program maintained its $5.8 million, as well as $3 million for Socially-Disadvantaged Group Grants. These are dedicated to advancing cooperative business growth in rural U.S. communities. This program has had enormous success in helping to startup, expand and innovate cooperatives across sector,s including agriculture, childcare and housing.
The USDA Rural Energy Savings Program received a small increase in the legislation, totaling $11.5 million for FY22. RESP provides zero-interest loans to electric cooperatives and other eligible entities to make energy-efficiency improvements directly on homes at no to minimal upfront costs to the homeowner. Then, the homeowner can pay back the cost of the project via their monthly bill. Applications are currently open.
In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Development Cooperative Development Program maintained level funding at $18.5 million. CDP is a global initiative that works to strengthen the capacity of cooperatives and credit unions worldwide.
Now, Congress will begin considering funding for fiscal 2023, which begins on Oct. 1. Among the programs that the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA will be advocating for is an increase to $15 million for the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program.
Cooperatives are encouraged to ask their members of Congress to support this request. Please reach out to Kate LaTour with questions or for more information at [email protected].
—Report by Kate LaTour, Director of Government Relations, NCBA/CLUSA