Resolutions Committee advances new food waste policy
Originally published in FarmWeek Aug. 7, 2023 edition
Illinois Farm Bureau’s Resolutions Committee advanced a new policy Aug. 1 aimed at reducing food waste that emits greenhouse gases, clogs landfills, and hurts both urban and rural communities.
Cook County Farm Bureau introduced the proposal after surveying its members about what issues are most important to them.
“The amount of food that’s in a landfill is increasing, so we thought we needed to have something to address the fact,” Janet McCabe, Cook CFB president, told FarmWeek. “We’re trying to get people thinking about how we need to do something about this problem.”
One in seven people in the United States is food insecure and more than 1 million people in Illinois are struggling with hunger. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of food produced for human consumption in the U.S. is wasted and is the most common material found in landfills.
The resolution, which will be debated by Farm Bureau delegates during the Annual Meeting in December, supports ways to turn non-consumed food into a resource through composting. It also supports reducing the regulatory constraints for on-farm materials, urban food scraps, and processing facilities.
The proposed policy also supports:
- Incentives for farmers to donate surplus crops and expanded tax reductions, including creating a state tax for food donors, even if the food is sold at low cost to families.
- A marketing campaign about composting and an updated USDA definition of compost to increase consumer demand.
- Simplifying the permitting process for compost facilities, including those that accept landscape waste and pre-consumer food scraps. The measure supports exemptions for community and small-scale facilities, as well as encouraging local zoning to consider composting facilities as agricultural or commercial operations.
- Implementing a state-based version of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects food donors who donate in good faith from criminal or civil liability. While there is a federal law, current interpretation by the U.S. Department of Justice may allow states to implement laws that provide greater protection.
The resolution was heard in the Agricultural Production and National Issues Subcommittee, chaired by Brent Clair, Adams County Farm Bureau president. “When you think about how a majority of the state and how rural it is and you consider the food issues going on inside cities, and the waste that is being generated in production of food, it’s an awesome idea, (taking) that and (putting) it back into the food system through recycling and composting,” he said.