Almost one year ago exactly we wrote about a congressional briefing being hosted by Congressman Chaka Fattah, whose district includes both Weavers Way and Mariposa co-ops. The briefing was prelude to a bill known as the National Cooperative Development Act (H.R. 3677) that Fattah introduced in mid-December and which has been cosponsored by Congressman Brady and Congresswoman Schwartz along with six other members of Congress. Full text of the bill can be found here. The bill, summed up nicely by The Campaign for Cooperation will:
- Provide loans and seed capital to groups who are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Award grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges, and universities so that they can provide technical assistance to operating cooperatives or groups that are attempting to form cooperatives;
- Provide guidance, information on best practices, and technical assistance to communities seeking to establish cooperatives;
- Provide funding for training of providers of technical assistance and supporting existing professional development training for organizations engaged in cooperative development;
- Establish cooperative development centers in areas that currently do not have them; and
- Authorize $25 million yearly for four years.
All over the world people are seeking alternatives to the system that enables corporate scandals and encourages greed. Because cooperatives are democratic and focus on member-owner needs rather than maximizing return for shareholders, they are perfectly situated to provide such an alternative. The National Cooperative Development Act is both an outgrowth of, and will help to support, this historic surge of interest in cooperatives as a means to build a better world.
In case you don’t remember what you learned in American Government back in high school, this bill still has a LONG way to go before it becomes law and will require the support of everyone in the country who would like to see the cooperative movement expand and thrive. One obstacle to overcome is getting companion legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate. So, Pennsylvanians, please contact Senators Casey and Toomey and ask them to introduce companion legislation for H.R. 3677 – the National Cooperative Development Act. Tell them it will be good for farmers (it will) and cities (it will). That pretty much covers all of PA right there. And if you happen to be reading this from a congressional district not covered by the 9 co-sponsors of the bill (which means you live in one of the 426 other districts), please contact your representative and ask him or her to sign onto Congressman Fattah’s bill.
To find out more about the legislation and how you can support its passage, visit www.campaign.coop.