ALBANY ─ 144 supporters of the ‘Farm to Food Bank’ tax credit bill released a letter today urging
Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. A statewide coalition of New York’s agriculture sector, antihunger 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.
“New York farmers are some of the most generous, donating millions of pounds of food to stock
the shelves of food banks, but they want to do more and, with our help, they can. The Farm to
Food Bank bill I passed this year will remove some of the financial barriers farmers face when
trying to donate food by offsetting some of the costs they incur getting the food to those in
need through a tax credit. This is not only an upstate issue or a downstate issue. It is not only a
poverty issue or a farmers’ issue. I am extremely proud to see the coalition of environmentalists,
humanitarians, anti-hunger groups, food banks, and farmers that has come together to show the
magnitude of the cause. We are urging the Governor to sign this legislation so that food doesn’t
go to waste, it goes towards ensuring no family experiences the pain of hunger pangs,” said
Assemblymember Francisco P. Moya, D-Queens.
“When we talk about tackling poverty, there’s no better place to start than helping farmers feed
our hungry with fresh, locally-grown food at no expense to taxpayers,” Senator Rich Funke,
R-Monroe, said. “It’s clearly a win for farmers and at-risk families alike.”
“Often, the most nutritious food is also the most expensive and the most perishable – and therefore
the most out-of-reach for low-income families struggling to make ends meet. Food Bank For New York City is proud to have worked for years with New York farmers to ensure food pantries and soup kitchens are able to provide the fresh produce to which all New Yorkers should have access, no
matter their income” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO, Food Bank For New York City. “The Farm to Food Bank” bill will be a further encouragement to the generous farmers of our great state to make new produce donations for neighbors in need.”
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.”
“Farmers make it a priority to help provide local food to their neighbors in need through
donations to regional food banks across the state. Last year alone, New York farmers donated
more than 12 million pounds of nutritious food, and that number would undoubtedly rise should
Governor Cuomo sign the bill that provides a tax credit for farmers who donate. It would help
offset the costs for labor, packing, and distribution that can limit a farm’s ability to get food to
important community organizations. New York Farm Bureau is pleased to join a diverse coalition
of partners in asking Governor Cuomo to sign this important legislation that will encourage even
greater giving from the agricultural community to fellow New Yorkers who may need a helping
hand,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President.
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.
“This bill rewards farmers for contributing excess food to moderate- and low-income consumers.
There’s an environmental benefit as well – food waste decomposing in landfills contributes 90% of
landfill methane emissions, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. This
legislation helps farmers and the hungry as well as mitigating climate change. It should be signed into law,” said Richard Schrader, the Political Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Northeast.
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.