The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (abbreviated as "RBS") is one of three agencies within USDA Rural Development (along with the Rural Housing Service and Rural Utilities Service) responsible for administering various economic development programs to rural communities in the United States and its territories. Because these three agencies are closely aligned, they are commonly referred to as the USDA Rural Development, Business & Cooperative Programs.
The mission of the RBS is to enhance the quality of life for rural Americans by providing leadership in building competitive businesses including sustainable cooperatives that can prosper in the global marketplace.
The organization meets these goals by:
In addition to supporting rural business, economic, and cooperative development, the Agency has become increasingly involved in renewable energy and value-added agriculture since the enactment of the 2002 Farm Bill.
The Rural Business-Cooperative Service is headed by an Administrator who reports directly to the Under Secretary for Rural Development, who in turn reports to the Secretary of Agriculture.
Business & Cooperative Programs staff are headquartered in Washington, D.C., but the Agency has a presence in every state and U.S. territory. Typically there is a Business & Cooperative Program section associated with each USDA Rural Development State Office. These State Offices and their subordinate Area Office staff are responsible for most program delivery.
The RBS also publishes the bi-monthly Rural Cooperatives magazine. Nearly all of the Agency's programs are funded annually through Congressional appropriation as part of the U.S. Federal Government budget process.