Cuomo urged to sign ‘farm to food­bank’ bill

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By David Klep­per

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.

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