By Carina Olivetti

Here’s a quick breakdown of the USDA-NRCS Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) Pilot Project that was announced on June 9th, 2024. I can envision numerous Nebraska entities joining forces to take advantage of this opportunity by providing local solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil and water health all while boosting the Nebraska economy. If any eligible applicants reading this want to collaborate with NRC or just need assistance with the development of a project, please contact me ASAP.  Organics Program Director Carina Olivetti [email protected]

The purpose of the USDA-NRCS Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) Pilot Project is to provide assistance through a cooperative agreement to municipalities, school districts, counties, local governments, tribal governments or city planners in the U.S. to carry out planning and implementing activities that will:

  • Generate compost.
  • Increase access to compost for agricultural producers.
  • Reduce reliance on, and limit use of fertilizer.
  • Improve soil quality.
  • Encourage waste management and permaculture business development.
  • Increase rainwater absorption.
  • Reduce municipal food waste; and
  • Divert residential and commercial food waste from landfills.

The estimated funding floor for this opportunity is $75,000, and the estimated funding ceiling is $300,000. Projects must be 2 years in duration. Applicants should plan their projects based on an estimated project start date of January 31, 2025. Applicants must submit their applications via by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on September 4, 2024. 25% match/cost share of the federal share requested is required. The proposed project should not duplicate activities from another Federal award and must have specifically different objectives. Cooperative Agreements are different from grants in that it provides substantial involvement between NRCS and the awardee in carrying out a CFWR Pilot Project.

Who’s eligible?

  • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities.
  • Special district governments
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Independent school districts
  • City or township governments
  • County governments

Priority will be given to projects that:

  • Anticipate or demonstrate economic benefits for the targeted community;
  • Incorporate plans to make compost easily accessible to agricultural producers, including community gardeners, school gardens, and producers in urban settings;
  • Integrate food waste reduction strategies, including innovative food recovery efforts such as, but not limited to food gleaning, storage and preservation techniques; and
  • Include a robust plan that describes collaboration with multiple partners.


  • Eligible entities should collaborate with two or more partner organizations on their CFWR pilot project.
  • Non-eligible entities may be partners on a project.
  • The eligible entity that submits the application is responsible for receiving and managing the award.
  • Documentation (letters of support from each partner) verifying support from collaborators is required as part of the application.

Activities eligible for CFWR are:

  • Materials, supplies and other costs related to development with a cap of $5,000 per material.
  • Construction of a building temporary or permanent structure.
  • Contractual labor costs and personnel costs.
  • Lease or rental of special equipment, vehicles, land, and building space.