How the next Farm Bill can reduce food loss and waste across the US

An oasis for wildlife, Spin and Mindy's homestead perches atop rolling hills flanked by corn fields

By prioritizing food waste reduction and prevention alongside other interventions, the 2023 Farm Bill offers a critical opportunity for Congress to help us transition to a regenerative, equitable, and circular food system.

To help Congress tackle food waste in the 2023 Farm Bill, WWF, the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and ReFED released Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2023 Farm Bill, which outlines 22 recommendations for policymakers.

Our current food production system is unsustainable – we’re converting natural habitats to cropland, overtaxing freshwater sources, and straining rural communities. At the same time, Americans waste one-third of all food produced in or imported to the United States. Producing wasted food consumes around 20% of all freshwater and cropland per year and generates around 270 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions––equivalent to what 58 million cars create in a year. Recovering just 30% of this wasted food could feed every food-insecure American—about 50 million people in 2020.

The Farm Bill governs United States priorities and programs related to nutrition, agricultural production, and rural communities and has major impacts on producers, consumers, and the environment.

“Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2023 Farm Bill'' identifies four main areas for congressional action: preventing food waste, increasing food recovery, recycling food scraps through composting or anaerobic digestion, and helping to coordinate food waste reduction efforts. Specific recommendations include clarifying inconsistent regulation, offering incentives for food waste recycling, and launching a consumer education campaign.

Given the bipartisan support for measures to reduce food waste, the next Farm Bill provides an exciting opportunity to invest in food waste reduction efforts that benefit people and nature. Implementing these solutions has the potential to generate $73 billion in annual net financial benefit, recover the equivalent of 4 billion meals for food-insecure individuals, save 4 trillion gallons of water, and avoid 75 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

These recommendations build upon the Food Waste Policy Action Plan published by WWF and partners.