ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York farmers are eligible to receive a tax credit for qualifying food donations made to food banks and other emergency food programs beginning January 1, 2018. The tax credit is expected to save farmers a total of $10 million annually. According to the New York Farm Bureau, farmers across the state donated more than nine million pounds of food in 2017, which helped provide more than seven million meals to New Yorkers in need.
“This administration is committed to stomping out hunger in every corner of New York, and by establishing an incentive to increase access to farm-fresh products, we are one step closer to this goal,” Governor Cuomo said. “Refunding farmers for their generous food donations not only supports the state’s agricultural economy, but encourages more New Yorkers to help end hunger in our communities once and for all.”
Following a recommendation of Governor Cuomo’s Anti-Hunger Task Force, the tax credit was enacted to compensate farmers for costs associated with harvesting, packaging, and distributing local products to eligible food pantries, food banks and other emergency food programs across the state. Increased donations will help meet the growing demand for fresh, healthful foods in underserved communities across New York.
The tax credit, which is supported by the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, is a refundable credit equal to 25 percent of the fair market value of qualified donations up to $5,000. Eligible donations include fresh fruits and vegetables grown or produced in New York State and provided to emergency food programs that qualify for tax exempt status. To claim the credit, the taxpayer must receive proof of the donation in the form of a receipt or written acknowledgment from the eligible food program.
A fact sheet on eligibility requirements for the tax credit is available here.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said, “Our farmers aren’t just great at growing food, every year they are among the leading donors to food banks, food pantries and similar organizations. Their donations provide fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables to millions of New York families that may otherwise go without. At the Governor’s direction, the State has worked hard to develop this tax credit to reward farmers for their generosity and spur economic growth in the agricultural industry, and to feed even more New Yorkers who need it most.”
Acting Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Nonie Manion said, “This valuable tax credit offers a way for farmers to reinvest more in their land and businesses while simultaneously helping hungry families in need. I applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership and drive to enact this innovative credit.”
Senator Rich Funke said, “I’ve worked on many important issues since I was elected, but I am most proud of my efforts in sponsoring and ensuring the enactment of the Farm to Food Bank tax credit in last year’s budget. Helping farmers while assisting our food banks in taking care of the most needy among us demonstrates all the best and most important elements of public service. I tell my staff every day to first and foremost do what’s right. This program truly embodies that philosophy.”
Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, said, “New York State’s hardworking farmers are not only some of the very best at what they do, they are also some of the most generous people in our entire state. Most of our farmers are already making these vital donations of farm fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks and pantries across the state. In providing them this credit, we are not only rewarding them for their kindness, but we are also investing in our state’s future. Our farmers will be able to reinvest into their land and ensure they can continue to provide all New Yorkers–especially those who may not otherwise have access–with the healthy foods everyone deserves.”
Assemblyman Bill Magee, Chair of the Committee on Agriculture, said, “This tax credit will benefit the relationship between our local farms and our communities by building support between those who work to address issues of hunger at the local level, and those who produce and distribute good wholesome food products. I have long supported this initiative and I am glad to see it come to fruition.”
Food Bank Association Executive Director Anita Paley said, “We are most grateful to the farmers who have consistently sought to be a part of the solution and do what they could to feed their hungry neighbor. Our member food banks have long-standing relationships with their local farmers and the donations we receive now are helping us feed NYS in partnership with the food pantries in NYS. There is no doubt in our minds this tax credit will only encourage an increase in the same quality donations to benefit those who are unable to afford fresh, healthy food.”
New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher said, “New York Farm Bureau is excited to see the rollout of the Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit. This has been a priority issue for our organization’s members who routinely donate to their regional food banks and local pantries. The credit will help offset the costs of picking, packing and transporting the food to the donation centers, while also increasing access of fresh, local food to New Yorkers in need. We appreciate Governor Cuomo and his agency staff’s efforts to make this day a reality.”
This tax credit builds on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to end hunger in New York State. In the 2018 State of the State address, the Governor proposed a No Student Goes Hungry Program to ensure students of all ages, backgrounds and financial situations have access to healthy, locally-sourced meals. Through his proposal, the state would institute a ban on lunch shaming, require certain schools to serve breakfast ‘after the bell,’ and double the state’s investment in the Farm-to-School program.
The Governor also proposed a more than 300 percent increase in school lunch reimbursements for schools that purchase at least 30 percent ingredients from New York farms. To ensure the availability of healthy food options on college campuses, the Governor proposed a requirement for all SUNY and CUNY schools to either provide physical food pantries on campus, or enable students to receive food through a separate arrangement that is stigma-free.
In 2016, the Governor created the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, to establish a permanent focus on fighting hunger in the state. In addition, the state has expanded the eligibility requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and extended the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program through 2020. In addition, the state funds several programs to help families-in-need to buy fresh produce at local farmers’ markets.
—The Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
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