Nova Scotia

Farmer tax credit for food bank donations backed by health minister

Health Minister Leo Glavine said he supports the idea of a tax credit for farmers who donate a portion of their crop to food banks. He introduced the idea back in 2013 when he was in Opposition.

Leo Glavine introduced idea of farmer tax break in 2013 and still wants to "see it happen"

Canning vegetable farmer Richard Melvin hopes the province will offer a tax credit to growers who donate part of their crop to food banks. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Health Minister Leo Glavine says he continues to support the idea of a tax credit for farmers who donate a portion of their crop to food banks.

Glavine introduced the idea back in 2013 when he was in Opposition. He brought forward a private member's bill to amend the Income Tax Act to include a 25 per cent tax credit on donations to food banks, but it never passed first reading.

Now that he's health minister, Glavine says he still supports the idea. 

"Anytime we can move beneficial programs, I like to see that happen," he said. "It now is under the purview, of course, of the minister of Finance. And we'll have a further discussion."

The Department of Finance said it continues to review tax initiatives on an ongoing basis. 

Feed Nova Scotia, the organization that provides food to 146 food banks across the province, supports the renewed call for the tax credit. 

"We don't like to see wastage," said Feed Nova Scotia's executive director, Nick Jennery. "There are a lot of hungry people out there and if you give them food you're giving them hope."

Canning vegetable farmer Richard Melvin said between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of his crop could be donated, if a tax incentive was implemented.

Melvin said some vegetables are not suitable for commercial sale because they do not meet size requirements, but are still healthy and edible.

He said many farmers have to plow under crops that cannot go to market because they are too costly to harvest if there's no return on the product. 

In 2014, Ontario brought in a 25 per cent tax credit for farmers who donate to food banks or school nutritional programs. Melvin said the idea has been percolating in Nova Scotia for years.

"This has been in the pipeline at the provincial government for several years so we're hoping this could be moved along," he said. 

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