New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is positioning the state as a national leader on the issue of food waste with his Food Recovery Act. And now as budget negotiations near a close, he is further strengthening that proposal with the addition of the Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit!
Food waste is a serious economic, environmental, and food security problem. In the United States, more than 40% of the food we produce is wasted. Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion of food every year, as well as squandering huge volumes of fresh water, energy, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in the production of that food.
Each year here in New York, millions of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables go unharvested. Much of this produce is perfectly good, but cannot be marketed at retail value due to aesthetic imperfections or other market considerations. In addition to waste on farms, food makes up 18% of New York’s municipal solid waste stream.
The vast majority of this food is disposed of in landfills where it breaks down and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. At the same time, nearly one in seven New Yorkers lack consistent access to sufficient food. Currently, we are throwing away wholesome food that could instead help feed our fellow citizens in need.
The Food Recovery / Farm to Food Bank Proposal would take critical steps to reduce food waste, recover wholesome food for those in need, and keep food out of landfills across New York State!
How would it do this?
First, the Food Recovery and Recycling Act (“the Act”) would require the state’s largest food waste generators to donate excess edible food to local food rescue organizations and to recycle food scraps, rather than sending them to pollution-generating landfills. And related administrative and funding actions would increase statewide education on food waste, help generators measure their waste and find local rescue organizations, and expand rescue capacity. Learn more about the details of the Act in NRDC's Memo of Support.
The Farm to Food Bank Tax credit would allow New York farmers to claim up to $5,000 annually through a refundable tax credit equal to 25% of the wholesale value of their donations to emergency food programs. As I’ve written before, this would ultimately help farmers cover the steep costs of harvesting, processing, and transporting crops, making donations a viable option for New York’s farmers—and getting more fresh food to hungry New Yorkers.
Together, the linked proposals address food waste from farm to fork here across our state. We welcome the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the Legislature on this critical issue and call for inclusion of the Food Recovery / Farm to Food Bank Tax Credit in the final New York State FY18 budget!