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USDA Invests $9.4 Million in Compost and Food Waste Reduction Projects
10 February 2023 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $9.4 million in 45 cooperative agreements that support innovative, scalable waste management plans to reduce and divert food waste from landfills. The Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) cooperative agreements, which are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, are part of USDA’s broad support for urban agriculture through its Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP). The projects will be implemented between 2023 and 2025.
“These Compost and Food Waste Reduction projects play important roles in building resilient, local food systems, including strong food recovery networks and food waste reduction solutions that benefit farmers and communities,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which houses OUAIP. “With an estimated 4% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions attributable to uneaten food, local strategies and tools like these are important climate solutions.”
USDA prioritized projects that anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits, incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to farmers, including community gardeners, integrate other food waste strategies, including food recovery efforts and collaborate with multiple partners.
Recipients include projects in 27 states and one territory. Some highlights of recipients include:
● Geneva Compost and Food Waste Diversion, Town of Geneva, Geneva, N.Y. The project will involve a variety of partners to improve the environmental justice profile of Geneva by diverting food waste and other biodegradables from the waste stream, generating nutrient-rich compost, improving soil quality, reducing reliance on fertilizers, and engaging in food recovery efforts that take “extra” food and get it to community members in need.
● Composting and Food Waste Reduction Pilot Project, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, Ariz. This pilot project will build the infrastructure needed to provide compost to school and community gardens, improve soil quality, reduce food waste, and demonstrate the economic benefits of including food reclamation education as an integral part of a school garden and nutrition programs for students, their families and the community of Tucson and Pima County, Arizona.
● Tlingit and Haida Compost Pilot Project, Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Juneau, Alaska. This pilot composting program will operate in conjunction with the Tribe’s newly constructed Taay Hít Greenhouse in Juneau that already generates fresh produce for its tribal citizens. The integrated composting and greenhouse program design is supported by Tlingit & Haida's Climate Change Adaptation Plan and Climate Change Action Plan, which identify food security and community greenhouse projects as priorities. Tlingit & Haida first incorporated agricultural science into a greenhouse operation by using the best growing practices to maximize sustainable food production and recently completed its first harvest from the Taay Hít Greenhouse, serving community elders a curry soup featuring bok choi, kale and cilantro.
● Miami-Dade County 2022 CFWR Pilot Project, Miami-Dade County, Miami, Fla. This project will implement a two-year pilot project to jump start a circular economy for food waste that aims to accelerate and scale the services of three small locally owned composting companies. The project will expand existing service capacity by 50% over one year, obtain a renewable 18-month pilot project permit, and develop a commercially viable compost product that can be used by Miami-Dade County’s Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces Department to create a circular economy for food waste and compost that will reduce landfill food waste and replace chemical fertilizer.
Learn more about Composting and Food Waste Cooperative Agreements at usda.gov/urban, and view a complete list of 2022 cooperative agreement recipients and project summaries. These new agreements build on USDA’s $3 million investment in 37 agreements in 2020 and 2021.