America’s Electric Cooperatives Oppose Senate Farm Bill, Encourage “Significant Changes” in Conference Committee

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today expressed continuing concern with the Senate Farm Bill, which would radically alter the current rural electrification funding program. The Senate passed the bill earlier today.

The Senate-passed bill includes a provision that would retroactively impact escrow accounts for rural electrification development and likely lead to increased costs for electric cooperative consumers.

“The Senate proposal makes unreasonable changes to the RUS electric loan program and is unacceptable to electric cooperatives,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “By retroactively reducing interest rates on these funds, the Senate is unfairly altering existing agreements without considering the consequences or alternative approaches. We strongly urge lawmakers to implement significant changes in conference as they work to develop a Farm Bill that can be supported by our members and the 42 million Americans they represent.”

Over time, co-ops fund escrow accounts to secure their ability to repay government loans. The current RUS electric loan program contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the federal Treasury.

Matheson recently applauded passage of the House’s farm bill and urged leaders of the Senate Agriculture committee to reconsider their approach towards escrow accounts for rural electrification.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.