The change could increase the amount of donations made to Oregon food banks

by: JASON CHANEY - A St. Vincent dePaul volunteer handles produce donated to the local food bank. During the growing season, farmers frequently donate to the facility.

In 2011, a tax credit intended to reward generous farmers expired, but thanks to a 2014 bill, the benefit has returned with fanfare.

Late last month, members of the House Republican Caucus joined Gov. John Kitzhaber to commemorate the signing of Senate Bill 1541. The bill reinstates a tax credit given to farmers who donate portions of their crops to food banks and other hunger relief organizations. Not only does the legislation reinstate the credit, it increased it. Instead of a 10 percent credit on the wholesale price of donations, farmers will now receive a 15 percent reward.

“The reinstatement of the crop donation tax credit will benefit Oregon farmers and families across the state,” said House Republican Leader Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte). “Hunger is not a partisan issue and I thank my colleagues in the Legislature as well as the governor for working together to recognize the efforts of the farming community in their fight to help their neighbors who are facing hunger.”

The Oregon Food Bank said that more than 260,000 Oregonians rely on an emergency food source for their meals. Lawmakers hope that the increased tax credit will encourage farmers to donate even more to help meet the need.

“These donations to Oregon food banks and hunger relief organizations help feed thousands,” said Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), a primary sponsor of the bill.

In Crook County, the St. Vincent de Paul food bank has benefitted from the donations sent by local farmers.

“We absolutely depend on those farmers,” said Kate Erickson, president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County board. “If it comes through our door, we are extremely grateful for it.”

Erickson went on to say that the crop donations are especially helpful because it provides those who utilize the food bank with healthier options.

“They are getting something fresh,” she said. “They desperately need that kind (of food) because a lot of the foods you get through food banks, they are nutritious, but there are a lot of carbs with them.”

Mylen Bohle, area extension agronomist for the Central Oregon region, could not say for sure which farmers utilized the tax credit program in the past. However, he knows of a few local farmers who donate portions of their crops.

“Any of these folks who are doing vegetables, let’s say they can’t sell it or they produce more than they know what to do with, if you could donate it to a food bank and take the wholesale value and get some credit out of it, it would be a benefit to them and a benefit to food banks.”

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