Farms can get credit for food pantry donations

Published Nov 4, 2018 at 9:00am

With the fall harvest winding down, New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball issued a reminder Monday to the state’s farmers that they can get a new tax deduction for food donated to tax-exempt emergency-food organizations under a law that took effect this year.

The tax credit can be claimed on donations of fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat and some dairy products to qualified food pantries, food banks and other emergency food programs.  

Donations need to meet quality and labeling standards. The credit is equal to 25 percent of the fair market value of qualified donations, with a maximum benefit of $5,000 per year. An eligible farmer who makes qualified donations with a fair market value of $12,000 this year would be allowed a 25 percent credit, equaling $3,000.

Those eligible to claim the refundable tax credit include business owners subject to New York State income tax whose incomes are primarily from farming activity. Corporate franchise tax-payers and farmers who are in partnerships or are shareholders of a New York State corporation can also claim the credit.

Donations have to be made to food organizations that qualify as tax-exempt under federal tax law. To claim the credit, the taxpayer must receive proof of the donation in the form of a receipt or written acknowledgment from the eligible food program.

More information on the guidelines and record-keeping requirements for farm donations to food pantries can be found in a fact sheet at

If a dairy farm processes, bottles and delivers its own milk, this will qualify as an eligible donation as long as the farmer making the donation meets the definition of an eligible farmer, according to the Department of Taxation and Finance frequently-asked-questions web page on the program.

The tax credit is supported by the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy, and the bill creating it was endorsed by both the New York Farm Bureau and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Last year, New York State farmers donated more than 10 million pounds of food through the Harvest for All Feeding America Program, according to the Agriculture Department.