Blog Post

The “farm bill”, the largest and most important piece of legislation for food and farm policy in the United States, is scheduled to be reauthorized in 2018. Emily Broad Leib, Director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic (Harvard FLPC), wrote in a Huffington Post article that there is a sizable opportunity to cut wasted food in the next farm bill.

In 2015, the USDA and EPA announced a collaborative goal to cut food waste in half by 2030 nationally. Broad Leib argues that the federal government can make strides toward that goal by shaping and encouraging food waste efforts through the farm bill. In collaboration with ReFED and Food Policy Action, Harvard FLPC released a report entitled Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill. A few recommendations in the report include:

  • Clarifying confusing date labels so that food can either have a quality label (“Best if Used By”) or a safety label (“Use By”)
  • Expanding federal tax incentives and liability protection for donating surplus food. RecyclingWorks partnered with Harvard FLPC to develop food donation fact sheets on tax incentives, liability protection, and food date labeling.
  • Giving preference to USDA grant applicants that have a plan for establishing a food donation program.

Another recommendation that the article poses is to provide funding to build upon state-level pilot programs. Broad Leib cites Massachusetts as the model for other states to follow given its success in developing waste diversion infrastructure and the organics waste ban. According to a report commissioned by the MassDEP, the statewide commercial organics ban has produced $175 million in economic activity and created 900 jobs. Learn more about how businesses and institutions can comply with the organics waste ban. Building up effective infrastructure to handle new waste streams, including food waste, is a capital-intensive endeavor; other states would benefit by having federal funding available to expedite the development of infrastructure.

RecyclingWorks assists businesses and institutions with recycling and food waste reduction through composting and food donation. To speak to a recycling expert, call our hotline: (888) 254-5525 or email us at