Many of you have certainly heard the big news by now the province announced at the end of last month – Ontario has implemented a new tax credit for farmers who donate products to community food programs. It’s unique to Canada, it’s been talked about for years, and it’s now in action.
The Food Donation Tax Credit for Farmers offers farmers 25 per cent of the fair market value of the agricultural products they donate to community food programs, which includes donations to food banks and student nutrition programs (SNPs). Donations from January 1, 2014 onward will be eligible for the credit. The program is part of the government’s strategy to build a stronger agri-food industry and support the Local Food Act.
The new tax credit has been welcomed and applauded by many. Offering support for our hard-working farmers and battling food waste, while simultaneously assisting food banks and SNPs – it’s really a no brainer. Many farmers naturally do already donate, but this legislation will further assist them with the process, as well as encourage others to donate; and it will get healthy, local food where it’s needed. Win-win-win.
Minister of Finance Charles Sousa is quoted: “This new tax credit will help farmers donate more fresh food to their local food banks, which will support our farmers, drive local economic growth, and benefit families in communities across the province.”
Joanne Santucci, Food Share Executive Director, said the tax credit should help the organization increase its supply of fresh produce by offering farmers an incentive to donate.
VG Meats was in attendance at the press conference launching the tax credit, and donated 1,000 kg of ground beef to the Hamilton Food Share.
Cory Van Groningen of VG Meats shared, “our donation will help more than 13,000 hungry people. VG Meats encourages other Ontario farmers to share the bounties of their harvest and take advantage of this initiative.”
The tax credit will help cover the cost of repackaging large shipments of the meat into smaller containers appropriate for distribution to food banks.
The Ontario Association of Food Banks also welcomed the new tax credit, saying everyone in the province should have the opportunity to enjoy local food.
“A balanced diet with local, fresh, and nutritious foods will help improve the health of food bank clients as well as the health of communities across Ontario,” said the Association’s Executive Director, Bill Laidlaw.
It is clear this sort of policy support is needed: one-third of the 375,000 Ontarians served by a food bank each month are children, and more than 600,000 kids participate in breakfast, snack and lunch programs.
We hope this new tax credit is a sign for continued policy and assistance to come in supporting our farmers and the much-needed community food programs that are vital to our communities.