A NEW TAX CREDIT PROGRAM for farmers who donate excess crops to food banks has been included in the 2017-18 state budget, approved on April 9. Unanimously passed by the Legislature but vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo twice previously, the “Farm to Food Bank” legislation allows farmers to receive an annual 25 percent tax credit—$5,000 maximum—to help offset the costs of harvesting, processing and transporting food to soup kitchens, food pantries or other emergency food distributors.
Environmental and anti-hunger advocates note the credit is a cost-effective way of reducing food waste and increasing food options for emergency food systems. Christopher Kelder, owner of Kelder’s Farm in Kerhonkson (Ulster County) and district 10 Director of the New York Farm Bureau, was one of many local advocates for the program. “Farmers have long demonstrated their generosity by collaborating with regional food banks,” Kelder notes. “This will support even greater donations and help the New Yorkers who can least afford local food to feed their families a nutritious meal.”