Tax credit may help farmers donate more fresh food

The growing season is coming to a close for many farmers, but local food banks are already looking ahead to next year.

Local Food Act change would give farmers a tax credit for donating unsold crops to food banks

The growing season is coming to a close for many farmers, but local food banks are already looking ahead to next year.

The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have proposed an amendment to the Local Food Act that would give farmers a tax credit for donating unsold crops, and the manager of the Sudbury Food Bank hopes to see the law passed before the next growing season.

“As you can see, [there's] a lot of good product in there. Spaghetti sauces, beans, canned fruit, that kind of stuff. We’re getting a fair bit,” Dan Xilon said. “It would be nice if we could add a bushel of apples to that.”

Sudbury Food Bank administrator Dan Xilon

'We should be compensated'

Only about 25 per cent of what the food bank collects is fresh food, Xilon said, and added he would like to see that number rise to about 50 per cent.

He said fewer than a dozen local farmers donate to the food bank in Sudbury, which serves an estimated 14,000 people every month.

“We haven’t really talked to farmers, because we haven’t had a lot to offer them,” he said. “Now if this tax credit goes through, I’ll be showing up on their doorsteps.”

The owner of Leisure Farms in Sturgeon Falls says she wants to donate more food, but she needs an incentive.

“We’re paying to pick the fruit and vegetables, so we should be compensated a bit,” Diane DesChatelets explained. “There is waste that could be given away.”

While officials with food banks hope the proposed legislation will be passed, the cost may be hard to swallow politically, as the Progressive Conservatives estimate the proposal would mean $750,000 in lost tax revenue each year.

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