Reducing food waste in the 2023 Farm Bill
In our report,“Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2023 Farm Bill,” we detail effective levers for promoting long-lasting solutions to addressing food waste. Our top recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill include improved federal coordination; funding for surplus food recovery, food waste recycling, and food waste prevention planning and infrastructure; support for research in food waste prevention; and necessary standardization of the food date labeling system. To learn more, please see the summary below and our new Top Farm Bill Priorities two-pager.
Create a food loss and waste reduction office within the USDA and authorize funding for it to offer grants and support food waste reduction efforts
The 2018 Farm Bill took an important first step of establishing a Food Loss and Waste Reduction Liaison to coordinate federal food waste reduction efforts at USDA. To build on these efforts, the 2023 Farm Bill should create an office to enhance this work and better position the federal government to meet the U.S.’s national food waste reduction goal.
Increase funding for planning and infrastructure to reduce food waste and enhance food recovery
Greater federal investment is required to help support state and local governments with the heavy costs of planning and implementing beneficial policies with demonstrated impact on reducing food waste, such as organic waste disposal bans or organic waste recycling requirements, landfill taxes on food waste, Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) policies, and food donation requirements, and to build surplus food recovery capacity and food scrap recycling processing infrastructure needed to reduce food waste in landfills.
Fund research in food waste prevention, upcycling, and recycling solutions
Food waste prevention efforts focus on interventions at the root causes of food waste—they locate and address inefficiencies in the food system and food-related practices to identify the best outcomes for that food. Upcycling finds new uses for food previously considered waste. Separately, food scraps can be recycled into animal feed or compost. Research is needed to identify new ways to upcycle or recycle food byproducts and food scraps, and to prevent food waste across food product categories.
Standardize and clarify date labels
Date label confusion accounts for 20% of consumer food waste, costing approximately $29 billion per year. There is no federal regulation for date labels used on food. Instead, a patchwork of inconsistent state regulations and myriad date labeling terms, such as “sell by,” “best by,” “expires on,” and “use by,” exists across the country, creating confusion and making it difficult to donate safe, surplus past-date food. Standardizing and clarifying date labels is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce food waste nationally.