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Ore. Farmers Want Tax Break For Donated Crops

USDA

Oregon farmers are hoping the state Legislature makes it worth their while to donate crops that would otherwise go to waste.

Oregon lawmakers Wednesday considered a measure that would bring back an expired tax credit for donating fresh produce to food banks.

Low-income families often can't afford fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers sometimes have an abundance that they'd like to donate. But they can't afford the extra cost to harvest and transport the goods.

It's cheaper to let it go to waste.

The current measure would renew the tax credit and bump it up from 10 percent to 15 percent of the crop's wholesale value.

Salem-area orchardist John Zielinski told lawmakers that even 15 percent doesn't fully reimburse him for the expense.

"As a farmer, I would love to see it much higher than that," Zielinski said. "Twenty-five or 30 percent would be a real incentive and would start to recover some of the costs that we would incur."

The bill is awaiting a vote in the House Revenue Committee. That panel's chair, Democrat Phil Barnhart, says he doesn't think there's enough legislative support for increasing the credit above 15 percent.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.