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Food Banks Push for Tax Credits

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EUGENE, Ore. — Local food banks and farmers could soon be benefiting from fresh produce donations. New legislation could provide tax credits for farmers who donate produce to local food banks, like Food for Lane County.

Those supporting the legislation say it’s a win-win for both those who grow the food and those who’d be receiving the donation.

It takes a lot of extra cost and labor to get food from a farm to the food bank.

“Sometimes it’s cheaper just to plow up a crop rather than harvest it,” said farmer Walter Johnson.

But that could soon change if legislation passes that would give tax credits to farmers who donate extra produce to food pantries.

“We could really use the extra bonus right now of having healthy food in our warehouse to help feed the increase in the number of people we’re seeing right now,” said Beverlee Hughes, Food for Lane County Executive Director.

Food for Lane County says there are farmers who regularly donate extra produce, but right now there’s just no incentive to do so.

“Donating food to the food bank is gratifying and to have a tax credit to help us out a little bit makes it more doable,” Johnson said.

In the past, Oregon had similar tax incentives for food donation, but they expired a few years ago and left food banks looking for fresh locally grown foods.

“We’ve seen a big increase in the amount of people coming our way and needs some assistance with food. We’re concerned about our food supply so if this crop donation tax credit passes it’s a nice incentive for farmers to donate crops at the end of their season,” Hughes said.

As the legislation works its way through the state legislature, food banks and farmers are hopeful it’ll pass before the short session ends.

“I feel like it’s a sure a lot nicer to know that someone is benefiting from the crop that I put effort into rather than just taking a mower and chopping it down and feeding the worms,” Johnson said.

The bill already passed through the Oregon Senate and will be presented in front of a house committee Tuesday.

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