September 11, 2023 | Community Composting, Composting, Food Waste, Policies + Regulations

USDA’s Composting And Food Waste Reduction Grants Endangered

Top: Images courtesy cities of Knoxville, Tennessee and Upper Arlington, Ohio. Both cities received composting grants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Practices, created in the 2018 Farm Bill, is at risk of being unfunded in this year’s federal appropriations, putting in jeopardy programs such as the Composting and Food Waste Reduction Grants ($12 million invested since 2020) and Urban Agriculture Innovation Grants, according to a US Composting Council (USCC) Advocacy Alert. Dozens of community composting and food waste reduction projects in the U.S. have received these grants (issued as cooperative agreements), including municipalities, K-12 schools, universities, and others. Eligible activities include compost production, increasing access to compost for agricultural producers, improving soil quality, increasing rainwater absorption, and reducing municipal food waste.

The USCC is encouraging its members and others to contact their elected representatives to restore appropriations funding to the Office of Urban Agriculture through the appropriations process for FY ’24. “This vital investment has only begun to touch the deep need for food scrap reduction and diversion programs around the U.S., but House and Senate Appropriations budgets have cut the entire $25 million program that was originally funded in the 2018 Farm Bill,” explains Linda Norris-Waldt, the Council’s deputy director who leads advocacy initiatives. “USCC has joined with Kiss the Ground, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, The Zero Food Waste Coalition and others to lobby not only to restore funding to the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Practices through the appropriations process, but to provide an increase in the budget to $50 million.”

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