GardenShare

GardenShare

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tax credits for farmers who donate proposed

144 supporters of the ‘Farm to Food Bank’ tax credit bill released a letter late last week urging Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. A statewide coalition of New York’s agriculture sector, anti- hunger community, and environmental advocates have united in support of bill S.7833 (sponsored by Senator Funke)/A.10584 (sponsored by Assemblymember Moya), which represents a win-win-win for New York’s farming families, the environment, and the hungry men, women, and children who rely on emergency food agencies in every county of the state. After the bill was vetoed last year, the Legislature worked to address the administration’s concerns and it was passed unanimously by both houses in June 2016.

Bill S.7833/A.10584 would permit eligible farmers to claim a refundable tax credit equal to 25% of the wholesale cost of their qualified donations to food banks or other public, charitable, or non-profit emergency food programs, up to $5,000 per year. The current federal tax deduction does little to incentivize the large number of New York farmers who earn minimal or no farm income to make such donations. A state tax credit to offset the out-of-pocket costs of harvesting, processing, and transporting food that might otherwise go unharvested or undelivered would encourage New York farmers to give more generously than they already do.
“More than 2.6 million New Yorkers go hungry every day, almost a million of whom are children. Additionally, the lack of healthy fruit and vegetables in the diets of those who are food-insecure leads to a myriad of health issues, including diabetes. There is a widespread need for healthy produce in New York’s emergency food system,” stated Susan Zimet, Executive Director of Hunger Action Network of NYS. “This legislation will help meet that need by bringing healthy, nutritious produce to those that need it the most.”
Fresh fruits and vegetables left unharvested or dumped in landfills due to imperfect aesthetics, market fluctuations, or other economic considerations contribute to food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. They are also a monumental waste of resources such as water, labor, energy, land, and fertilizer. Food scraps that wind up in landfills rot, producing methane gas, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in driving global warming. The Farm to Food Bank bill would reduce food waste and mitigate New York’s contribution to greenhouse gases while providing fresh, nutritious food to the hungry in the process.
A farmer who receives the maximum $5,000 tax credit would have actually donated $20,000 worth of fresh food to an emergency food program. For food-insecure households, such donations have the potential to positively impact their health outcomes in the long-term and meet their immediate food needs in the short-term. Fresh, locally grown food that might otherwise go to waste could instead be distributed to New York’s neediest populations via the emergency food programs that serve them.