Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cuomo Vetoes Tax Break for Farmers Who Donate Food to Food Banks

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have provided a tax break for farmers who donate food  to food banks.

According to the Associated Press, farmers already donate millions of pounds of food every year, but say the credit of up to $5,000 annually would reduce the costs of harvesting and transporting surplus crops that would otherwise go to waste.

The veto came the night before Giving Tuesday, a global day which kicks off the charitable giving season. 

The Hunger Action Network of New York State has made the bill a priority, saying it will address a growing hunger problem around the state. It's also supported by environmentalists and agriculture groups who say it will reduce food waste and help poor New Yorkers get access to healthy fruits and vegetables.

New York Farm Bureau was disappointed with the veto.

“During this season of giving, New York Farm Bureau is profoundly disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of a bill that would encourage greater farmer food donations to people in need across the state," said New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton. 

"The bill would have established a food donation tax credit up to 25 percent of the wholesale price of the food, not to exceed $5,000 annually per farmer. This would help offset the cost of labor, packaging and transportation to get the food to regional food banks," he said.

"The bi-partisan bill passed by the legislature and information provided to the governor since, have addressed the governor’s concerns in his veto message, which was nearly identical to his 2015 veto message," Norton said. The AP states in a previous story that Cuomo vetoed the bill last year because lawmakers didn't include it in the budget.

"Last year, New York’s farmers donated approximately 13 million pounds of food to regional food banks through the Harvest for All program, and next week during our State Annual Meeting, we will announce the impressive total for 2016," Norton said. 

"While the generosity of farmers is well established in New York, we are only left to wonder how many additional people could have fresh, local food on their dinner plates in the future if the governor had supported this bill," Norton said.
"New York Farm Bureau urges the governor to propose a solution in his Executive Budget that will resolve any issues he has with the bill,” Norton said.

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