USDA Invests In Rural Cooperatives

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack 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.”

In Wisconsin:

  • UW-Madison Board of Regents will use a $199,985 Rural Cooperative Development Grant to provide technical assistance to start-up cooperatives, as well as established cooperatives, in the areas of food systems, forestry, manufacturing, childcare, and veterinary services. The funding, combined with the Center’s $70,782 contribution, will help reach 58 groups and cooperatives.
  • Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) will use a $174,946 Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant to provide technical assistance to women owned and particularly Native American owned home care cooperatives in rural areas. The goal of the technical assistance is to help home care co-ops remain profitable, expand operations, and serve more rural residents in need, despite significant industry challenges. In addition, CDF is proposing to continue a partnership begun in 2020 with Native American agriculturalists to enhance the practice of Native-owed food production, marketing, and distribution. The rural areas to be served are in Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and California.

USDA is making the investments through a suite of business, utilities and cooperative programs and services such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee ProgramElectric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee ProgramFood Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan ProgramRural Cooperative Development Grant ProgramRural Economic Development Loan and Grant ProgramSocially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program and Value-Added Producer Grant Program.