Ontario Makes History for Farmers and Food Banks

Ontario is the first province in Canada to pass tax credit for farmers who donate produce to local food banks

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Earlier this morning at Queen's Park, the Ontario Government made history by passing an amendment to Bill 36, the Local Food Act, to include a tax credit for Ontario farmers who donate fruits and vegetables to Ontario Food Banks.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks has been working alongside MPP Bob Bailey for over three years on this initiative, and would like to thank MPP Bailey for all of his hard work and perseverance on this measure. A tax credit of this type has been introduced to Queen's Park many times with support from all three political parties, but unfortunately never passed due to timing issues. This summer, Premier Wynne began to champion the tax credit for farmers, and worked to ensure that it would be added to Queen's Park's fall agenda.

With this amendment to Bill 36, Ontario farmers will be eligible to receive a 25% tax credit based on the fair market value of the produce that they donate to food banks and other charitable food programs.

A large portion of food bank clients do not receive the proper daily servings of fruits and vegetables as suggested by Canada's food guide. Local food banks rely heavily on the generosity of farmers to ensure clients receive nutritious produce.  Fortunately, many local farmers consistently support their neighbours and communities by donating to food banks, without any form of compensation. Finally, this tax credit will help reimburse some of the costs Ontario farmers incur from harvesting and transporting the produce to food banks and ultimately to the 400,000 individuals that the Ontario Association of Food Banks serves collectively each month.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks' partners in the agricultural community support this tax credit, and are pleased that the government has taken leadership on this amendment. While this current tax credit is only eligible for fruit and vegetable growers, it is the hope of the Ontario Association of Food Banks and Ontario food producers that this credit will in time expand to include protein and dairy items, which are also desperately needed in the fridges and freezers of Ontario's food banks.

"The Ontario Association of Food Banks applauds the Ontario government for this tax credit, and for acknowledging the importance of food security in communities across this province," says Bill Laidlaw, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Food Banks. "While it is great to see a tax credit of this kind created and passed by the provincial government, there is more that needs to be done, and more that can be done, to eradicate hunger in Ontario."

This tax credit will be applicable on all fruit and vegetable donations from Ontario farmers to local food banks come January 2014. Food banks are currently in desperate need of produce, especially with the holiday season quickly approaching. The Ontario Association of Food Banks urges all farmers and supporters to continue to help their local food bank with donations throughout the remaining months of 2013, and into the New Year.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks is a network of over 120 food banks and over 1,100 hunger-relief agencies. Together, we serve 412,900 individuals, including 159,000 children every month, through a number of food programs and services, such as: breakfast clubs, school meal programs, community kitchens, emergency shelters, seniors' centres, and small neighbourhood food banks. For more information please visit www.oafb.ca

SOURCE: Ontario Association of Food Banks

For further information:

For more information or the request an interview with Bill Laidlaw, please contact:
Amanda King, Manager of Communications, Ontario Association of Food Banks
amanda@oafb.ca, 416-656-4100 x2932

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Ontario Association of Food Banks

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