Funding for the Cooperative Development Program at USAID

July 10, 2008

U.S. Senate Foreign Operations Committee
U.S. House Foreign Operations Committee
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senators and Representatives,

On behalf of the nation's largest retail grocery cooperative, I'm writing to ask your help in continuing the strong congressional support for the Cooperative Development Program (CDP) at USAID and to support a funding level of $12 million in FY2009.

For more than 40 years, U.S. cooperative businesses and associations have carried out cooperative development projects and programs that extend the power of economic ownership to hundreds of millions of people in the developing world. These programs strengthen communities and democratic governance, and directly reduce poverty and isolation among poor and vulnerable populations.

USAID's CDP program provides direct benefits to millions of poor people by providing funding to help develop cooperatives. Cooperatives are member-owned, democratic, community-based businesses. In the United States, where co-ops thrive, seven out of every 10 adult Americans is a member of a cooperative. Internationally, cooperative programs focus on agriculture, information and communications technology, electric services, financial services, housing and insurance.

Unfortunately, USAID consistently has underfunded the CDP. In FY2008, Congress directed USAID to provide $12 million to the program but USAID intends to spend less than half, only $5.5 million. A new five-year Request for Applications (RFA) for the CDP is set to be issued this fall and must be completed by May 2009.

Your support would go a long way to ensuring the continued survival of this truly democratic development program by insisting that USAID follow Congressional intent and provide $12 million per year in the RFA.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me or the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) at www.ocdc.coop.

Sincerely,

Tracy Wolpert
Chief Executive Officer

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