A new tax credit will benefit Virginia’s farmers and the food banks to which they donate.
The Food Crops Donation Tax Credit was approved by the General Assembly last year. It allows Virginia farmers who donate edible food crops to a nonprofit food bank to receive up to a 30 percent tax credit for their donation.
“This is a way for farmers and food banks to support one another and allow food bank patrons to access local foods,” noted Tony Banks, a Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodity marketing specialist.
“Sourcing food on the local level helps Virginia’s agriculture industry,” explained Leslie Van Horn, executive director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, which represents seven food banks and over 2,000 nonprofit food pantries and feeding programs. “It reduces food waste and provides an incentive to growers to donate produce. But, most importantly, it gives food-insecure individuals across the commonwealth access to food they need to thrive and prosper.”
In 2016 FVFB members served almost 1.2 million Virginians and provided more than 139 million pounds of food and other grocery items. Almost 40 million pounds of that was fresh produce, a 52 percent increase since 2010, according to Van Horn.
The organization has made a concerted effort to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available at member food banks and pantries. They have formed a statewide produce collaboration plan and are focusing on purchasing apples, cabbage and white potatoes.
Van Horn is hopeful the tax credit will help fill the food bank’s need for additional fresh produce while helping farmers get rid of seconds or thirds they can’t sell to retailers.
The credit took effect Jan. 1, 2016, and will last through 2021. Approved growers are entitled to a tax credit of up to 30 percent of the fair market value of a donation, not to exceed $5,000. It originated with legislation introduced by Del. Benjamin Cline, R-Amherst, and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath.
For the 2017 tax year, growers wishing to participate can submit a Virginia Department of Taxation Food Crop Donation Tax Credit application by Feb. 1, 2018. The form FCD-1 is available on the department’s website: tax.virginia.gov.