USDA Opens Application Period for Composting and Food Waste Reduction Cooperative Agreements

Jun 13, 2024

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) pilot projects for fiscal year 2024. The cooperative agreements, using remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, are jointly administered by USDA’s Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Selected projects will develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans and 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 (NRCS) – will accept applications on until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 4, 2024. Projects must be two years in duration with an estimated start date of June 1, 2025.

“Uneaten food makes up approximately 4% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of NRCS, which houses the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. “Turning food waste into valuable compost is an important climate solution and benefits both farmers and communities. Local strategies and tools like the cooperative agreements are important climate solutions and also contribute to food security at the community level, and we encourage communities to apply.”

Cooperative agreements support projects led by local and tribal governments, schools 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.
  • 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 notice.

This is the fifth year that OUAIP has offered this funding opportunity. Examples of past investments include Geneva Compost and Food Waste Diversion, from the Town of Geneva, New York, which diverted food waste and other biodegradables from the waste stream to generate 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.

Another example of a past recipient is the Composting and Food Waste Reduction Pilot Project by Tucson Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona. The project built infrastructure 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.


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

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