Nova Scotia farmers now have a clearer idea of how a tax credit for donating crops to food banks will work.

The province announced Tuesday the types of agricultural donations that qualify for the tax credit — everything from fruits and vegetables to grains to honey and maple syrup.

In return for giving to food banks that are registered charities, farmers will receive a tax credit equal to 25 per cent of the fair market value of the donation.

'A good incentive'

They will also be eligible for the charitable donation tax credit.

"This tax credit is really a good incentive for farmers who have been doing the good things all along," said Chris van den Heuvel, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. He added that a lot of time and money goes into producing the food.

Van den Heuvel said in most cases, there's no difference in the produce going to supermarkets and the donations going to the food banks. 

'The same quality'

"A lot of it is the same food, definitely the same quality," he said. "Some of it, maybe is being donated because it isn't the perfect shape or perfect size, whatever the case it is." 

He said farmers are happy to add fresh produce to go alongside the canned and dry goods on food bank shelves. 

"Giving these people that might be a little bit down on their luck, or for whatever reason they have to go to a food bank, the opportunity to have fresh fruits, fresh vegetables on their plate really means a lot to them," van den Heuvel said.

"You see that in their faces when you are delivering the food to them."

Retroactive tax credit

The tax credit, which was in the McNeil government's spring budget, is retroactive to January 2016.

According to a government news release, Feed Nova Scotia has seen an increase in produce donations each month since the credit was announced.

"Farmers are playing a critical role in helping us get fresh produce to Nova Scotians in need and we're thrilled to be seeing an increase in these donations each month," Nick Jennery, executive director of Feed Nova Scotia, said in the release.

"Having the regulations in place will encourage other farmers to give as well."

The province estimates the tax credit could be worth $300,000 this year.

Offsets cost to farmers

Marlene Huntley, executive director of Horticulture Nova Scotia, said the tax credit will help offset a cost for farmers.

"It costs money to grow and it costs money to harvest it. And if they're delivering it, then there's also a delivery cost. But the labour cost to take it out of the field? Often it is cheaper to keep it there," Huntley said.

"This tax credit helps them offset the cost of them bringing it out of the field so that it can be donated to Feed Nova Scotia."

Huntley said farmers are happy to donate food from their farms. She said the tax credit will help farmers to give even more food.

"It's definitely a bonus."

With files from Sabrina Fabian