FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2013
SIMCOE – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett supports a plan to give farmers a tax credit for donating produce to local food banks.
Earlier today, Barrett’s colleagues Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford and PC Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey, announced an amendment to the Local Food Act which would add a tax credit for farmers who donate their products to their local food bank. Also on hand were Jamie Reaume of the Holland Marsh Growers’ Association and Amanda King from the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
“Ontario has stagnated with little economic growth and high unemployment across the province,” said Bailey. “While the PC Caucus’ priority is to provide a path to grow our economy and create jobs, we also recognize today’s reality that many Ontarians struggle to put food on their tables and need to look to their local food bank for assistance. This is a simple thing we can do that will make a big difference to those families.”
Modeled on Bailey’s private members bill “Fighting Hunger with Local Food Act,” the amendment would grant a non-refundable tax credit worth 25% of the wholesale value to farmers who choose to donate their excess agricultural products to local food banks. The bill would also permit unused tax credits to be carried forward up to five years.
Each year, while food banks struggle to provide for those in need, Ontario farmers dispose of or plough back into their fields, more than 25 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food. This food is healthy, tasty and fresh, but is not chosen for sale by grocers because of cosmetic reasons such as size, shape or colour. Many farmers cannot afford the additional costs incurred to collect, process, and deliver their unsold produce to local food banks despite a clear desire in the industry to do so.
“Our riding is a big fruit and vegetable producer,” Barrett said. “Each summer, while driving around the riding, I see food rotting in the fields that could feed the hungry. This plan would assist farmers with the cost of harvesting and utilizing that produce.”
Barrett believes legislation such as this could have a huge impact in Haldimand- Norfolk due to the number of farmers growing products that could be donated to the food bank. In return, the needy would receive fresh, nutritious food.
Hardeman pointed out that currently the Local Food Act does nothing to increase the consumption of local food outside of government buildings. The PC Caucus has already announced an amendment to increase food literacy by requiring food education as a mandatory component of instruction for pupils in every grade.
“The Opposition Caucus believes that Ontario deserves a comprehensive Food Act that addresses the challenges that our food system and farmers are facing,” said Hardeman. “That’s why we are putting forward amendments such as this tax credit which will help our farmers and ensure that people using Ontario’s food banks will have more access to fresh, high quality Ontario food.”
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For more information contact: MPP Toby Barrett 519-428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629