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Politics and Government

Cuomo vetoes farm to food bank bill

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have given farmers a tax credit for giving food to food banks. 

In the past few days, many healthy food advocates, farmers and lawmakers had been urging the governor to sign the bill into law. Under it, farmers would have gotten a tax credit worth 25 percent of the value of the food they donate to food banks.

The legislature passed it earlier this year. But Cuomo rejected it for several reasons. He said the bill duplicated tax benefits farmers already get for food donations.

"It is well-established that farmers can already deduct the fair market value of charitable food donations on their tax returns," Cuomo wrote in his veto message.

Cuomo also wrote, "the bill fails to define a number of key terms, potentially allowing unintended parties to avail themselves of the credit."

For many families, fresh food is expensive. Jackie Bogart lives in Owego and often goes to a nearby pantry to get food for her mom and kids. But fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard for her to come by.

“Being poor, I can’t really provide it too often," she said. "But if I can get it from the pantry, that’s awesome. It makes a big difference in our family life.”

Kermit Bossard, of the Spencer Van Etten Food Cupboard, said because of the drought this year, it was hard to get food donations. This bill, he said, would give farmers "a lot more incentive" to give to the food bank.

The New York Farm Bureau said it’s disappointed the governor vetoed the bill. The lawmaker who sponsored it, Republican State Sen. Rick Funke of the Rochester area, said he and other lawmakers will try again next year