Cuomo urged to sign ‘farm to foodbank’ bill
A broad coalition of environmentalists, anti-hunger advocates and agriculture groups is urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation giving farmers a tax break for donating food to food banks.
In a letter sent to Cuomo on Tuesday and signed by 144 groups including the New York Farm Bureau and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the coalition said the bill would address a growing hunger problem while reducing wasted food.
“Often, the most nutritious food is also the most expensive and the most perishable — and therefore the most out-of-reach for low-income families,” said Margarette Purvis, president of the Food Bank For New York City. “The farm to food bank bill will be a further encouragement to the generous farmers of our great state to make new produce donations for neighbors in need.”
Farmers last year donated 12 million pounds of food in New York. Supporters argue that number could go up dramatically if the state gives a credit to farmers to offset the cost of harvesting and transporting surplus crops that otherwise might go to waste. The credit would be capped at $5,000 annually.
Cuomo vetoed the bill last year because lawmakers chose to handle it outside the standard state budget process. It passed the Legislature again this year, and a spokesman for the Democratic governor said the bill remains under review.
“This is not only an upstate issue or a downstate issue. It is not only a poverty issue or a farmers’ issue,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya, a Queens Democrat. He said the bill, which he sponsored, would ensure “food doesn’t go to waste, it goes towards ensuring no family experiences the pain of hunger pangs.”
The federal government already offers a tax credit to farmers who donate goods to food banks. Several states have created their own tax credits, including California, Oregon and Colorado.
An estimated 2.3 million New Yorkers rely on emergency food programs like the ones offered by food pantries, and more than a third of them are children.
Other signees on the letter include the League of Conservation Voters and several regional food banks and anti-hunger advocacy groups.