USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements for Compost and Food Waste Reduction

USDA Announces Cooperative Agreements for Compost and Food Waste Reduction

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of up to $9.5 million for Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) pilot projects for fiscal year 2023. The cooperative agreements support projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans. They are part of USDA’s broader efforts to support urban agriculture.

USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) – led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – will accept applications on Grants.gov until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 15, 2023. Projects should span two years with a start date of Dec. 1, 2023, and completion date of Dec. 1, 2025.

“These cooperative agreements support communities in their efforts to reduce and divert food waste from landfills,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “These projects will empower communities to reduce waste and support agricultural producers through increased access to compost to improve soil health on their operations.”

Cooperative agreements 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;
  • Improve soil quality;
  • Encourage waste management and permaculture business development;
  • Increase rainwater absorption;
  • Reduce municipal food waste; and
  • Divert food waste from landfills.

OUAIP will prioritize 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. Additional details are available in the grants.gov notice.

This is the third year that OUAIP has offered this funding opportunity. For example, 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, develop a public education campaign focused on the benefits of food waste diversion and that drives participation in locally available food waste diversion services.

Webinar

A pre-recorded webinar will provide an overview of the cooperative agreements’ purpose, project types, eligibility and basic requirements for submitting applications. The webinar will be posted at farmers.gov/urban.

More Information

OUAIP was established through the 2018 Farm Bill. It is led by NRCS and works in partnership with numerous USDA agencies that support urban agriculture and innovative production. The grants are part of a broad USDA investment in urban agriculture. Other efforts include:

  • The UAIP Competitive Grants Program, which announced $7.5 million in funding opportunities this year.
  • Creating and managing a Federal Advisory Committee for Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to advise the Secretary on the development of policies and outreach relating to urban agriculture.
  • Reopening the People’s Garden Initiative. People’s Gardens across the country grow fresh, healthy food and support resilient, local food systems; teach people how to garden using sustainable practices; and nurture habitat for pollinators and wildlife and greenspace for neighbors.
  • Providing technical and financial assistance through conservation programs offered by NRCS.
  • Organizing 17 Farm Service Agency urban county committees.
  • Investing nearly $133 million in grants through the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) that develop, coordinate, and expand producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets, and local food enterprises.
  • Helping child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods through the Food and Nutrition Services Farm to School Program.

CFWR is part of USDA’s broader efforts to advance equity, support local and regional food systems and access to food, and encourage use of conservation and climate-smart practices. For example, this year, USDA is investing up to $70 million in Equity in Outreach Cooperative Agreements to support outreach to underserved producers and communities about opportunities for natural resource conservation, climate-smart agriculture and forestry. Additionally, USDA’s Food Systems Transformation Framework builds a more resilient, fairer food supply chain with more and better market options for consumers and producers while reducing carbon pollution; makes nutritious food more accessible and affordable for consumers; emphasizes equity by creating wealth that stays in small towns and underserved communities.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

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