Oregon Senate Bill 1541 gives a break to farmers who help feed hungry Oregonians
Portland, Oregon - February 14, 2014 – As preparation for spring planting begins, the Oregon Senate has unanimously approved legislation that would give farmers a tax credit for donations to hunger relief organizations. SB 1541 now goes to the House.
Backed by farmers, businesses and organizations across the state, including the Oregon Food Bank, the proposed legislation will allow farmers and producers to claim a 15% tax credit on the wholesale price of their donation. Many farmers want to help the hundreds of thousands of Oregonians who face hunger every day but getting the food to those who need it can be a daunting task. Currently they must take their donation at a loss due to the cost of harvest, transport and storage.
“I am sure that most farmers would like to donate every year, but the extra expenses might be too much in a bad year. However, the tax incentive might be enough motivation to incur the added cost to pick, handle and transport product to the food bank,” says John Zielinski of E.Z. Orchards, a fourth-generation farm located just northeast of Salem.
“Individuals and companies who give cash or items to a non-profit can get a tax credit for their donation but there is no such credit for Oregon farmers,” says Susannah Morgan, CEO of Oregon Food Bank. “We feel this legislation will encourage producers to give for the first time and those who have been giving, to give more.”
The tax credit is an inexpensive solution to a big problem. Since every $1 in tax credit buys 9 meals, at least 2.25 million plates of food will be available each year to hungry children, seniors, people with disabilities and others in need at a cost to taxpayers of only 11 cents per meal.
In an average month, more than 260,000 Oregonians eat meals from an emergency food box. Most people seeking emergency food are unemployed, underemployed, disabled, seniors or families with children. More than a third of those eating meals from an emergency food box are children. Even though the economy is slowly improving, Oregon’s unemployment rates remains above the national average.
About Oregon Food Bank
Oregon Food Bank is a nonprofit, charitable organization. It is the hub of a statewide network of more than 935 local partner agencies serving Oregon and Clark County, Wash. OFB recovers food from farms, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, individuals and government sources. It then distributes that food to 20 regional food banks across Oregon. Sixteen are independent charitable organizations. OFB directly operates the four regional food banks serving the Portland metropolitan area, southeast Oregon and Tillamook County. Those four centers distribute food weekly to 380 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs helping low-income individuals in Multnomah, Clackamas, Clark, Washington, Harney, Malheur and Tillamook counties. OFB also works to eliminate the root causes of hunger through advocacy and public education.