Amherst, MA Nov. 9, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing more than $1.2 billion in loans and grants to spur economic development, catalyze rural prosperity and advance equity through rural cooperatives in 36 states and Puerto Rico. Last month, USDA celebrated its 59th annual National Cooperative Month and the vital role cooperatives play in helping people build bright futures in rural America.
“Cooperatives serve as one of our most important partners in delivering critical goods and services to rural communities and is central to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Secretary Vilsack said. “For more than a century, the cooperative business model has been integral to rural advancement and the American economy, and today accounts for more than two million jobs across the country. The investments we are announcing today will ensure that cooperatives continue the important work of serving the unique needs of their communities, filling market gaps and building local wealth and opportunities for connection across rural America.”
For the Southern New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, a USDA Rural Development investment will be used by the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) to provide technical assistance and training to small business and individuals seeking to form a cooperative. CDI will use a $200,000 USDA RD grant to assist in leveraging resources to create measurable impacts by increasing and retaining access to affordable housing, jobs and improving essential infrastructure and creating community services. CDI is a regional 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 1994 by co-op leaders in the Northeast.
“We congratulate and thank CDI for their important work to support cooperative development in Southern New England and further encourage folks who are interested in developing a cooperative to reach out to us or CDI to learn more about cooperative development,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Scott J. Soares.
Secretary Vilsack made today’s announcement during a roundtable with rural community and small business leaders in Colorado, as officials from the Administration are traveling the country as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series to highlight how the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments are bringing new revenue to farms, increased economic development in rural towns and communities, and more opportunity throughout the country.
Today’s announcement includes a total of $1.2 billion in awards that will support 112 projects in diverse communities throughout the U.S.
USDA is making the investments through a suite of business, utilities and cooperative programs and services such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program and Value-Added Producer Grant Program.
Background: Rural Cooperatives
Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the people who use them. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operate for the benefit of members, rather than to earn profits for investors.
Cooperatives are a trusted, democratic, time-tested business model that builds local wealth for members and communities. Organized to meet the economic needs of its member-owners, a cooperative is a particularly resilient business. It embodies the concept of self-help: members use the cooperative, own it, and control it.
More than 30,000 cooperatives – including agricultural, utility, financial services, purchasing, food and grocery, housing, and retail co-ops - operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the U.S., and account for more than two million jobs, boast about 350 million memberships, and generate more than $700 billion in annual revenue.
USDA Rural Development offers a variety of financial assistance and services to assist rural businesses, including cooperatives and agricultural producers. For more information on cooperatives, visit USDA Rural Development Cooperative Services.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov and follow us on Twitter @RD_SNE.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.