Credit for giving: Beshear signs bill approving tax break for farmer donation to food banks

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By Sarah Bennett

Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill Tuesday to provide an incentive for farmers to donate to food banks, which local officials believe is a benefit to donation centers in a strong agricultural community such as Hardin County.

“It just makes sense all the way around,” said Don Fulford, executive director of Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

The food bank, at 313 Peterson Drive in Elizabethtown, supports Western Kentucky, which contains a large network of farmers, Fulford said.

The farming community — as well as those whom food banks support — could benefit from the donation of locally-grown food products, especially produce which is a healthier feature for food banks, he said.

Beginning in 2014, Kentucky farmers who donate edible agriculture products to a food bank will be eligible to receive a credit against their state tax liability equal to 10 percent of the value of the donated item, according to a news release form the Kentucky Association of Food Banks.

House Bill 141 was sponsored by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, and co-sponsored by 28 representatives across both parties, according to the release. It passed unanimously in the state House of Representatives before passing in the state Senate during the final minutes of the 2013 legislative session.

According to Fulford, the local Feeding America chapter already receives some food donations from area farmers.

“It’s just not near as much as we would like,” he said.

Fulford said he hopes the upcoming incentive will inspire more farmer donations to food banks.

Nathan Highbaugh, vice president of the Hardin County Young Farmers Association, said the organization recently donated $250 to Feeding America but has never made a food donation.

“It’s something pretty new,” Highbaugh said.

However, he added he believes local farming organizations would make food donations as it shows “what agriculture can do for the community.”

According to data from Feeding America, more than 15,000 residents in Hardin County are “food insecure,” meaning “they don’t always know where they will find their next meal.”

One in five of those food-insecure residents are children, according to the organization.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.