ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson today welcomed House passage of the Farm Bill, which includes several electric cooperative priorities.
“The Farm Bill is crucial for the future of rural America, which makes it a priority for America’s electric cooperatives,” Matheson said. “The House bill includes critical support for expanded rural broadband access and improved rural economic development programs used by electric co-ops to improve the quality of life in their communities. We welcome House passage of the bill, which will help ensure that the future of rural America remains bright.”
NRECA applauds provisions in the bill that create a broadband grant program at USDA that is focused on rural areas that need it most. The bill also maintains or expands other rural development programs to spur economic development and help electric co-ops modernize the electric grid while undertaking innovative, cost-effective energy projects. “Over the past decade, these USDA programs have saved and created thousands of jobs in rural America while expanding essential services,” Matheson said.
NRECA has expressed serious concerns with the Senate Farm Bill, which would retroactively impact escrow accounts for rural electrification and likely lead to increased costs for electric cooperative consumers.
Matheson recently called for investment in rural America as a way to lift the nation’s economy and urged that the Farm Bill include the following elements, which were adopted by the House:
- Additional funding for rural broadband grants and loans.
- Funding for proven rural economic development programs.
- Accelerating energy innovation in the development of renewable energy resources and electric grid modernization.
- Tools to finance 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.