YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. (WIVB)– Every year thousands of items are donated to the Food Bank of Western New York.
“It’s always important for us to make sure that our families are getting fresh fruits and vegetables to make sure they’re living healthy lives,” said Catherine Shick, the Public and Community Relations Manager for the Food Bank.
She says there’s a growing interest from families for fresh veggies. This, as they’re continuing to promote more initiatives where eating local produce is encouraged. A lot of those vegetables and fruit come from local farmers, like Tom Tower.
“I just always felt it was the right thing to do,” said the farmer who has been donating to the Food Bank for more than two decades. “It’s criminal, in my mind, that so much food goes to waste.”
To encourage donations, a bill was proposed and passed in the State Assembly and Senate – the Farm to Food Bank Bill. It would provide farmers who are donating a tax credit, amending the state tax code, worth 25% of the wholesale cost of their donation, up to $5,000 per year. The bill wound up on Governor Cuomo’s desk, only to be vetoed.
“They provide tax breaks all across the board for people a lot richer than most farmers,” said Tower.
Governor Cuomo noted several reasons why he is rejecting the bill, including it’s difficult to assess the value of the donations.
“I was very surprised that Governor Cuomo vetoed that part,” said Tower, who feels the governor has always been a friend of agriculture.
The farmer says it is too soon to tell if this’ll impact donations but feels some farmers are motivated by tax credits.
“The tipping point might be a tax credit,” said Tower. “For other people, it might possibly be the trigger, the tipping point to do it.”
This is the second year in a row the governor vetoed a bill which would credit farmers who donate to food banks.