Bob Bailey, MPP for Sarnia-Lambton, re-introduced his private member’s bill dubbed “A Bill to Fight Hunger with Local Food” to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on June 7, 2012. Entitled the ‘Taxation Amendment Act (Food Bank Donation Tax Credit for Farmers), 2012’, if passed, it will provide a significant tax credit to farmers who donate their unsold produce and other excess food to local food banks.
Each year, while food banks struggle to provide to those in need, Ontario farmers must dispose of or plough back into their fields, more than 25 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food. This food, considered ‘seconds’, while perfectly healthy, tasty and fresh is not chosen for sale because of cosmetic reasons such as size, shape or colour. The unfortunate fact is that farmers often cannot afford the costs incurred to collect, process, and deliver their unsold produce to local food banks despite a clear desire in the industry to do so.
Under Bailey’s proposed legislation the Government of Ontario would grant a non-refundable tax credit worth 25 per cent of the wholesale value of donated agricultural products to farmers who choose to donate their excess produce to local food banks. The bill would also permit unused tax credits to be carried forward and deducted for up to a five year period.
“Over the last number of years many Ontarians have found themselves in the midst of a very difficult period due to little economic growth and high unemployment across the province,” said Bailey. “The unfortunate reality is that many households across Ontario continue to struggle to put food on their families’ tables. In turn, many families have been forced to look to their local food bank for assistance.”
The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) reports that food bank usage inOntario has increased by 26 per cent since 2009. This means that roughly 395,000 Ontarians were forced to turn to their local food bank every month in 2011, which is an all-time high for the province. Yet, unfortunately as this demand increased, food banks across the province have seen a decrease in donations from large manufacturers’ and corporate food donors. The OAFB stated that food donations decreased by more than one million pounds in 2008 alone.
Bailey previously introduced his food bank bill in 2010. At the time, “A Bill, to Fight Hunger with Local Food” received very positive reviews from other MPPs in the Legislative Assembly; however, was unable to pass through the legislative process before the Premier called the 2011 election, ending the 39th Parliament of Ontario.