NCBA Echoes Congressional Concern on USDA Consolidation Proposal
The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) echoes the concerns voiced on April 24 by a number of bipartisan committee members in a budget hearing with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, regarding USDA Rural Development’s “sweeping” proposal to consolidate agency programs including the Rural Cooperative Development Grant program through the Congressional appropriation process.
“NCBA is very concerned that USDA has overlooked the importance of rural cooperative development in its budget and is pleased that Rural Development officials faced many questions from members of Congress, including Chairman Robert Aderholt, about the Administration’s plan to simply merge funding of many crucial activities together without a clear strategy,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA in a statement. “This plan removes the one funding mechanism for rural cooperative development, and we call on the Administration to rethink this important priority.”
On April 26, NCBA sent a letter to Chairman Robert Aderholt and Ranking Member Sam Farr expressing their deep concern on this matter.
In his opening statement of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies on April 24, subcommittee chairman Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) said, “As noted in the testimony, USDA is the sole federal department charged with serving the needs of Americans who live in the rural parts of this nation… As the only federal department dedicated to rural America, I have to wonder if this budget request is truly in tune with its needs, especially the needs of rural Americans with the lowest incomes.”
In an earlier statement, NCBA expressed concern that the proposed consolidation of a number of unrelated rural development programs will diminish USDA’s focus and mission of supporting the advancement of cooperatives.