On Tuesday, April 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an exciting new interagency strategy to reduce food waste. This strategy is the first time these agencies – or any federal agencies – have created a coordinated plan to attempt to reduce the 40% of food that goes to waste in the U.S.
The strategy identifies six priorities on which the three agencies will coordinate. Several of these priorities align closely with longstanding FLPC recommendations, including clarifying information on food safety, date labels, and liability protections for food donations; increasing consumer education; and encouraging food waste reduction by federal agency facilities. The agencies developed this strategy based on information and recommendations from several resources. Notably, the strategy mentions among the resources used in its creation Don’t Waste, Donate: Enhancing Food Donations through Federal Policy, a report published by the Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2016.
FLPC applauds the federal agencies for taking this important step to coordinate efforts on reducing food waste. We have been excited to see momentum forward in the past few years on food waste reduction; for example, the 2018 Farm Bill passed in December 2018 includes food waste resources and funding for the first time ever, and the Trump administration recently announced that April will be “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.” In addition to the federal momentum, FLPC tracks state legislation and found more than 100 bills introduced in 30 states in the 2017-18 legislative session. All of this forward progress is promising, as there is much work to do. We look forward to working with the USDA, EPA, FDA, and with other stakeholders, as they implement this strategy.