USDA offers US$9.4M for food waste reduction and support for urban agriculture
17 Mar 2023 --- The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make US$9.5 million available for Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) pilot projects this year. The initiative is designed to support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans.
The program is part of USDA’s efforts to support urban agriculture.
The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production, which USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service leads, will accept applications until June 15. Projects should span two years, starting December 2023.
The cooperative agreements between the government and companies will support projects led by local governments or other eligible entities that generate compost, increase access to compost for agricultural producers, reduce reliance on and limit the use of fertilizer.
Furthermore USDA will support initiatives that improve soil quality, encourage waste management and permaculture business development, increase rainwater absorption, reduce municipal food waste and divert food waste from landfills.
“These cooperative agreements support communities in their efforts to reduce and divert food waste from landfills. These projects will empower communities to reduce waste and support agricultural producers through increased access to compost to improve soil health on their operations,” says Terry Cosby, chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The USDA will prioritize projects that anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits, incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to farmers, integrate other food waste strategies, including food recovery efforts, and collaborate with multiple partners.
This is the third year that the USDA has offered this funding opportunity.
Last year, the Interior Alaska Food Waste Reduction and Education Initiative in Fairbanks, Alaska, received funds to support a free backyard composting program, distribution of educational materials, and various workshops that appeal to compost beginners, including students.
Meanwhile, the Moving Towards Zero Waste: Expanding Food Waste Diversion and Composting project in Providence, Rhode Island, is subsidizing training and supplies for backyard composting, developing a public education campaign focused on the benefits of food waste diversion, and driving participation in locally available food waste diversion services.
The organization explains that the initiative aligns with the USDA’s broader efforts to encourage composting and sustainable agriculture practices.
The program aims to promote sustainable soil health practices and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing food waste that ends up in landfills.
Reducing food waste can bring a company significant financial benefits. According to Reduced, the global market for products based on food waste was valued at US$52.91 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to US$83.26 billion in 2023 (CAGR 4.6% per year).
Another recent report detailed the financial benefits producers experience when committing to food waste reduction at every level.
Edited by Marc Cervera
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