Arizona Law Makes It Easier For Farmers To Donate

A new Arizona law aims to increase fresh produce donations directly from farmers to food banks and other charities. The Western Growers-sponsored bill signed last night by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer allows farmers to receive tax deductions if they donate some of the crops they produce — literally giving away the fruits of their labor to the hungry. Building on the spirit of giving, the law revises previously complicated rules for the donations in hopes of boosting charitable contributions.

Sponsored by Arizona Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), the new law will apply to all 2012 tax year Arizona grown produce donations.

“I am very pleased and appreciate the action whereby Gov. Brewer signed my Senate Bill 1121.This bill will make farm produce donated to food banks easier to accomplish and will greatly benefit some of the most needy in our society,” said Yarbrough. “I applaud Western Growers for urging this legislation.”

Arizona food banks are also excited about the new law.

“We’re looking for good, solid nutritious food. And fresh produce, you can’t hardly get any better than that,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president & CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “We’re really excited about the potential of this law. What we know is that these growers and owners of fresh produce products in Arizona have one purpose in mind — that is to feed hungry people. They don’t grow product to see it wasted.”

Analysis from the food bank shows that less than 1% of fresh produce grown in Arizona was donated to food banks in past years. Hildebrand hopes the new law will change that. The law makes these produce donations common sense by allowing farmers and others to deduct the wholesale market price of the produce for tax purposes. The law also gets rid of complicated restrictions that entire crops be harvested on behalf of a charity. That means farmers can immediately donate food when they choose.

That’s important for Arizona farmers like Western Growers board member Gary Pasquinelli of Pasquinelli Produce Company, who heard about a similar law developed with help from Western Growers in California. Pasquinelli asked the right question: Why not a similar law in Arizona? Paul Muthart, also of Pasquinelli Produce Company, then provided critical input to make sure the tax deduction would work with businesses tax structures.

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