NEW JERSEY – In an effort to create greater access to healthy foods and lessen the state’s food insecurity rates, the Senate Economic Growth Committee unanimously advanced legislation this week sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz that would raise the minimum SNAP benefits to $95 a month and create incentives for farmers to donate fresh produce.
“With SNAP benefit reductions scheduled to occur at the end of February at the Federal level, many New Jerseyans will see their monthly benefits cut nearly in half,” said Ruiz (D-Essex). “I commend Speaker Coughlin for his work in this space and join him in the efforts to protect and bolster New Jersey’s food security programs.”
The first bill, S-3491, would increase the minimum monthly benefit from $50 to $95 and authorize the Commissioner of Human Services to increase the program’s benefit amount depending on available state appropriations.
A second bill, S-1619, would provide a tax credit against the corporate business tax and the gross income tax for the value of fruits and vegetables donated to any charitable organization by commercial farm operators.
The tax credit would be equal to 10 percent of the wholesale value of the fruits or vegetables, and would be available for donations made from 2024-2029. This bill also allows for a 5 year tax credit carry over in certain circumstances. The tax credit, along with any other tax credit, would be limited to 50 percent of the farm operator’s tax liability.
“By creating more opportunities for farmers to donate directly to charitable organizations throughout the state, we help food panties offer more food options for residents in need. Through these tax credits for produce donations, we can help to ensure everyone here in the Garden State has access to healthy food options,” Ruiz said.
The Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury would be required to prepare an annual report including information on the utilization of the credit, and the produce donations.