CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Senate today passed Senate Bill 399, which would create a tax credit for farmers who choose to donate their products to one of the state’s food banks.
The bill, which originated in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, passed unanimously. Sponsors include Agriculture Committee Chairman Robert Karnes, R-Upshur; Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier; Robert Plymale, D-Wayne; Ron Stollings, D-Boone, Greg Boso, R-Nicholas; Roman Prezioso, D-Marion; Bob Williams, D-Taylor; John Unger, D-Berkeley, and Agriculture Committee Vice Chairman Kent Leonhardt, R-Monongalia.
Under the provisions of the bill, a “farming taxpayer” who derives more than $1,000 per year of income from fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, pork, fish, or any other edible product raised in West Virginia is eligible to receive a credit for his or her donations to a nonprofit food program operating in the state.
“We’re fortunate in West Virginia to have a strong farming community that will enable us to take the food they produce to fill a critical need,” Senator Karnes said. “It seems as if every year, we hear stories about how food banks are running low, and are in desperate need of help and donations. With this bill, we’re creating a source of sustainable agriculture that food banks can use to make sure they are always ready to serve those in need.”
Senator Kent Leonhardt, who owns and operates a farm at his home in Fairview in Monongalia County, said this is a win for both West Virginia’s farmers and its food banks.
“Our state has a proud tradition of helping our fellow man, and our state’s farmers produce the best local food,” Senator Leonhardt said. “Unfortunately, because of tough economic times, more people than ever depend on our state’s food banks to help feed their families. I’m proud of the Senate for doing something to address this need. It’s good policy to promote fresh, healthy food, and to give our farmers an incentive to donate those to their local food banks.”
The bill has been sent to the House of Delegates for further consideration.