Congress Backs Increased Funding for International Cooperative Development Program

November 14, 2005 - Congress has offered its strongest endorsement yet of increased funding for a key government program that supports international economic development through cooperative enterprise.

Acting on its annual foreign aid bill, the House and Senate made up to $10 million available for the program, known as the Cooperative Development Program, or CDP. The Senate sent the $21 billion bill to the White House November 10. President Bush is expected to sign it.

Until now, funding for CDP has been left to the discretion of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the government`s foreign aid agency. Despite previous requests from Congress that the program receive at least $8 million annually, CDP usually receives much less. Last year, it received less than $5 million. 

The program gives grants to cooperative development organizations to build and strengthen cooperative businesses in the developing world. In addition to boosting the incomes of individuals, these cooperatives affect issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to fostering democracy.

Paul Hazen, chair of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), an association of eight cooperative development organizations, praised the Congressional action.

"Members of Congress have sent a strong signal in support of CDP," said Hazen. "The appropriation provides for the security of the program in 2006 and encourages USAID to fully fund the program."

"CDP promotes people-to-people democracy that boosts economic growth and improves stability in some of the world most impoverished countries," Hazen added. "Increased funding allows cooperative development organizations to tackle some of the most serious problems in the developing world through the formation and growth of cooperative businesses."

Hazen, who also serves as president of the National Cooperative Business Association, thanked a long list of House and Senate members who supported the program. Senators who were instrumental in securing the funding include Robert F. Bennett (R-UT), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), Arlen Specter (R-PA), and the subcommittee heads Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT). 

House supporters included Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), Dave Obey (D-WI), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Don Sherwood (R-PA), Jerry Weller (R-IL), and the subcommittee heads Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY).

In addition to NCBA, members of OCDC are the Americas Association of Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Societies (AAC/MIS), ACDI/VOCA, CHF International, Land O`Lakes, Inc., NRECA International, Ltd., National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Also actively supporting overseas cooperative development is the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), representing U.S. credit unions as WOCCU`s largest member.

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U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC)
4301 Wilson Blvd., Suite 508
Arlington, VA 22203

CONTACT: Gretchen Warner
(703) 907-5621
gwarner@ocdc.coop