Donations from farmers double thanks to tax break, says Feed Nova Scotia

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Cold and rainy weather delays farming operations

Nova Scotia's main food bank distributor has called for an expansion of the tax credit rewarding farmers who donate excess crop to feed hungry Nova Scotians.

Feed Nova Scotia executive director Nick Jennery told a committee at the Nova Scotia Legislature Tuesday the credit is likely responsible for a huge increase in donated produce during the first year of its implementation.

"Those fresh fruit and perishables have increased during this last year," Jennery told the legislature's community services committee.

"I'm here to tell you that it works, because we have received 108 per cent increase in the first eight months of the Farm Tax Credit in donated perishable products."

Jennery said farmers donated 200,000 kilograms of fresh produce since the tax credit was made effective on Jan. 1, 2016, double what they did in years prior.

Jennery said he thinks it is time to do what other provinces have already done and extend the credit to include donations of meat or milk.

"People who are hungry, one of the things that they cannot afford is protein," he said.

"All too often what we are distributing are snacks. If you're a single father with two teenaged sons, what you're most concerned about is putting a main meal on the table."

Support from politicians

Liberal backbencher Joyce Treen, a member of the community services committee, offered her support. 

"I think it's a great idea," she said. 'The thought of throwing out food. I think of my mother every time — 'Don't you waste any food.' And it's terrible the amount of food we do waste."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill made poverty a key plank in his leadership bid and plans to run on it in the next election campaign.

"The tax credit has plainly been a good program," he said. "I don't see any negative repercussions out of it. Lots of good has come from it. I don't see any reason why its expansion shouldn't be explored."