FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – submitted by Michael Jiggins, Executive Assistant to Steve Clark, MPP, Leeds-Grenville
( BROCKVILLE ) – Leeds-Grenville MPP Steve Clark is welcoming a PC Caucus amendment to the Local Food Act that would provide a tax credit to farmers who donate their products to their local food bank.
Clark was at a Queen’s Park press conference today where it was announced the PCs are putting forward the amendment, modeled on Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey’s private member’s bill Fighting Hunger with Local Food Act.
MPP Bailey made the announcement along with Ontario PC Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Critic Ernie Hardeman ( Oxford ).
“The agricultural community and food banks in Leeds-Grenville have been strong supporters of this tax credit, which will ensure local families have better access to fresh, high-quality Ontario food,” said Clark . “I’m pleased that we’ve brought this amendment forward and I’m hopeful the government will support it because it will make a big difference to families in my riding and across Ontario .”
The proposed amendment would grant a non-refundable tax credit worth 25% of the wholesale value to farmers who choose to donate their excess agricultural products to local food banks. It would also allow unused tax credits to be carried forward for up to five years.
Clark noted while food banks are struggling to meet demand, every year in Ontario some 25 million pounds of fresh, quality produce is ploughed back into fields by farmers. Often, the produce was rejected by grocers for cosmetic reasons such as size, shape or colour.
“Farmers have no other option than to plough it under because of the cost involved in collecting, processing and delivering it to a food bank,” explained Clark . “Our proposed amendment to the Local Food Act would change that scenario by making use of this nutritious produce.”
Among the local food banks that have expressed support for MPP Bailey’s private member’s bill is Food For All, which serves South Grenville residents.
In a letter to MPP Bailey, Food For All executive director Bonnie Gommert wrote: “On behalf of the Food For All Food Bank, we would like to thank you for your efforts in introducing Fighting Hunger with Local Food.”
The tax credit amendment is one of the proposed improvements the Ontario PC Caucus has brought forward to strengthen the government’s Local Food Act.
Earlier this year, Clark welcomed an amendment to increase food literacy among Ontarians by requiring food education as a mandatory component of instruction for pupils in every grade.
“Local food is an important issue for consumers and producers in Leeds-Grenville,” said Clark . “I’m determined to ensure the Local Food Act is comprehensive enough to fix the problems farmers and our food sector face in putting more local food on people’s plates.”