Nova Scotia farmers are calling on the province to establish a tax credit for producers to donate some of their crop to food banks.

Feed Nova Scotia supports the idea, which has already been established in Ontario. Farmers in that province receive a 25 per cent tax credit on donations to food banks and school nutrition programs. 

"Farmers are glad to help out and we want to do more," says vegetable producer Richard Melvin, of Melvin Farms in Canning. 

Melvin said farmers often find themselves with excess crop that is unsuitable for commercial sale because it doesn't meet size requirements. 

"It would equate often times as high as 30 to 40 per cent of what's in a field. So literally there's tonnes, perhaps thousands of tonnes of food that could be utilized for Feed Nova Scotia," Melvin said. 

Leek Field

Feed Nova Scotia receives more than a million kilograms of fresh food donations every year. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Instead, that food is often plowed under and used as compost because it is too costly to harvest and package unless it goes to market. 

Nova Scotia farmers already donate plenty of surplus crop to Feed Nova Scotia. The non-profit receives more than a million kilograms of perishable product every year, which makes up more than half of all of its food donations.

But farmers could give even more if a tax credit was established to offset their harvest costs.

"Rather than send it to landfill or plow it under, they can donate their perishable product to food banks and receive a tax credit for that donation," said Nick Jennery, executive director of Feed Nova Scotia.

"And what we're seeing is that some of those food banks in Ontario have a double-digit increase in their donations."

In 2013, Leo Glavine, now the health minister, introduced a private member's bill to amend the Income Tax Act to include a 25 per cent tax credit for farmers to donate to food banks. The bill did not move past first reading.