Category: Executive Notes (page 1 of 3)

It’s Not Just Tomayto-Tomahto

By Mallory Phelan 

Prior to working at Oregon Aglink, I took a one way flight to Peru. I worked in a hostel before finding a job teaching English at a local school. Having studied abroad in Mexico and been three credits shy of a second major in Spanish, I felt decently comfortable with communicating in Spanish.

While my verb conjugations could always use some work, I felt confident in my vocabulary until I asked a man at the market where the aguacates were – his expression and lack of response made me question my pronunciation. I started to describe the black outer layer, soft green inside with a pit and he said palta! Come to find out, some countries in South America use the word palta instead of aguacate for avocado.

If you’ve ever traveled to another English-speaking country, you understand this concept of the same language using different words depending on the country such as the Brits saying “rubbish” for trash or Aussies saying “brekky” for breakfast. You’ve probably even known of American English words that change depending on what part of our country you are from. Is a carbonated fountain drink a pop, soda, soda pop, or Coke? The first time I visited Kentucky, a server asked me what kind of Coke I wanted. Only seeing regular or diet on the menu, I didn’t even realize Coke was being used as the overarching term for all the flavors offered.

When we look at our relationships with friends and family, the use of certain language becomes our own sub-dialect of sorts. Whether it’s inside jokes with your friends or the way you and your partner can communicate unlike any others, our word choice matters.

We’re fairly good at deciphering what those close to us say and mean. Do you remember any words your kids used growing up that only you understood or maybe were slightly incorrect? A little girl I babysat called a popsicle, poppy-sicky-doo. Ultimately, we invest time and show compassion in understanding those we care about.

Consider the disconnect between farming, ranching, fishing, and forestry with those who consume the products produced by those industries. While consumers and producers sometimes use words like sustainability and diversity with different intentions, there are other words those of us working in these industries use that are unfamiliar to the general public. It’s something that happens in the Adopt a Farmer program. We remind farmers and ranchers to explain terms such as variable rate application or that artificial intelligence isn’t the only thing AI stands for – even seemingly simple words like perennial or concepts such as cover crops are unknown to most people. It’s not only middle school students we work with, but sometimes their chaperones and teachers are unfamiliar with common industry vernacular.

Our use of these words common to us, but uncommon to the general public, can hinder our communication and understanding of how farms, ranches, fisheries, and forests operate. This isn’t unique to agriculture – many other science-based industries have to learn to do this including medicine, technology, neuroscience, and more.

It benefits all of us to learn to speak with words digestible to consumers today.

Committing ourselves to knowing what consumers understand and how we can better explain our industry takes time and to do it well, compassion – just like we extend to our family and friends. Instead of defense, let’s play offense by engaging in conversations now, including our very best listening, to understand better language to use and find areas of common ground with those who do not understand what farmers, ranchers, fishers, and foresters do.

Beyond the Bystander Effect

By Mallory Phelan

Having just wrapped up the biggest giving season of the year, we have probably all seen the ads and posts soliciting donations for humanitarian aid work in another country or a crowd-funding campaign for someone on social media. With the 24-hour news cycle and collective knowledge of humanity at our fingertips, there is never a shortage of demands on our attention and hearts.

Have you ever felt bad but kept scrolling? Thought about getting your credit card but changed the channel? I know that I have.

Of course the crisis of a natural disaster or a family’s GoFundMe account is worthy of our attention, but our funds, time, and emotional bandwidth are limited. We have to pick and choose our causes, and sometimes that is made easier when we can assume “someone else will do it.” The assumption that someone else will is the very basis for the social psychological phenomenon called the bystander effect: individuals are less likely to offer help when others are present, a diffusion of responsibility, which can result in apathy.

I’m fascinated by what makes people commit to a cause, act upon their conviction, and the tipping point of when taking action matters to them personally. It’s easy to join in on collective input like cheering at a sporting event. There can be 20,000 people in an arena and the roar of the crowd builds upon the involvement of others. As an industry, it’s so easy to cheer on one another in our own industry functions such as Denim & Diamonds, Oregon Seed League, or the Oregon Women for Ag auction. It’s trickier to get more of the hundreds of people at those social and networking events to show up at the Capitol to testify, participate in Adopt a Farmer, or even sit on commissions and association boards.

As humans we naturally prioritize, some of us better than others, and we have to. We simply cannot do it all. We’ve got to be careful not put off getting involved because it’s not urgent enough…yet. You’ve probably heard, if you don’t show up, someone else will and you might not like what they think or believe. Every time the Oregon legislature commences, we’re reminded of how important the work we do in between sessions is in engaging with our non-farming and ranching neighbors near and far.

As an organization, we have people show up for us every day – from our board of directors and event volunteers, to our committee members and adopted farmers – we have some of the best in the industry working with us to fulfill our mission of growing Oregon agriculture through education and promotion. We also have committed members whose dues help sustain us monetarily. Without the actions of so many, we would not have the impact we do in the lives of hundreds of students and their perceptions of Oregon agriculture every year.

The saying “many hands make light work” holds true to the work of engaging consumers about how their food and fiber is produced. Whether you make resolutions or not, I challenge you to join me in carrying the season of giving throughout the year and look for ways to join in, give your time and resources in the best way you see fit. It matters that we all show up. The days of “put our heads down and keep on trucking” are gone – the organizations collectively working to create progress in our industry depend on your involvement. The more folks connected to agriculture get involved in engaging with consumers, the better we can minimize the bystander effect and benefit our industry as a whole.

 

Along Memory Lane

By Mallory Phelan, Oregon Aglink Executive Director

After listening to stories from my grandma on a 1,300+ mile road trip to Monterey, California recently, I became intrigued about my ancestry. Upon returning to Oregon, I hopped online and started cross checking websites, clicking through generations of my relatives. Come to find out, I am related to one of the founding fathers of the United States! The journey has been one of discovery and surprises, with bits of confusion, and continuing curiosity as I’m eager to know more about the stories of the people who paved the way before me.

The outcomes of my personal genealogical sleuthing have been similar to the work being done in the Oregon Aglink office of unpacking our 300 square foot storage unit with five decades worth of history in many nooks and crannies.

Prior to doing my familial research, I had knowledge of my grandmothers’ maiden names, my paternal grandparents’ roots in the southern United States and of my maternal grandmother’s immigration across the Atlantic at age fourteen. Similarly, the collective memory of the staff at Oregon Aglink knows we were founded in 1966 by Marion T. Weatherford as the Agri-Business Council of Oregon. Beyond that beginning up through about a decade ago, it’s more of a haphazard understanding of the who, where, when and how.

Finding birth and death dates, marriages, and names in my family tree has been similar to learning when various projects the council took on began and ended, how relationships with different organizations around the state were formed, and of course identifying all the people who kept the organization rolling with its mission to grow Oregon agriculture through education and promotion. We’ve discovered that Oregon Aglink has spearheaded promotion for the industry using Portland ad agencies, facilitated grocery store taste testing, appeared on morning news segments, and more. Flash forward to today, when much of our programming is centered on education—Adopt a Farmer, strategic partnerships for adult education, road crop signs, and supporting other organizations with similar end goals.

Another way in which we reflect on the past contributions to Oregon agriculture is through our annual awards presented in November at Denim and Diamonds. We will hear from our Agriculturist of the Year, Marion Ag’s Tom Wimmer about his own history and career, as well as from our Ag Connection award winner, the many voices of the Oregon Dairy Women and their nearly 60 year history! Memory lane can be a place of inspiration—such as the hard work of these award recipients—as well as motivation, such as comes with the unearthing of decades of dedication to our cause.

As we continue to piece together where we came from and who we were as an organization, we are also working on streamlining our current processes and documenting our practices so that future generations can learn from our challenges while building upon our successes. Just like family history can be murky and become clearer with a little digging, so can our understanding of past outreach efforts that may be improved upon or spur new ideas.

Our summer project of moving out of our big storage unit has been completed, albeit with dozens of boxes to still sort through. A huge thank you to Oregon Aglink members Northwest Transplants for helping us shred documents and to Victor Point Farms for the use of their disposal bin! In addition, we would love the input of any members, past or present, to share stories, photos, or documents with us to help fill in the gaps of our organization’s history. We look forward to better serving our membership with a deep gratitude for those who paved the way before us, those who have sustained our efforts, and those currently giving their time, energy, and resources to growing Oregon agriculture through education and promotion!

 

Social Media Can Be A Team Effort

Picture this: a group of eleven people standing next to a mascot holding a ball on a court. You might assume it’s a basketball team, but that’s only part right. In this case, I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed and it’s a photo of the team behind the social media accounts of the Minnesota Timberwolves: eleven separate people working behind the scenes to produce content and engage fans.

Guess which team had the number one ranked NBA Twitter account for three years in a row until last year? Our very own Portland Trail Blazers. The big market teams who you would expect to rank high due to sheer numbers (such as New York, Boston, and Miami) didn’t even crack the top twenty!

So if it’s not the number of followers you have, what makes the best accounts? How do they connect with fans? How do they reach new fans?

First, they know the most likely reason someone would initially follow them: to know how the team is performing on the court, including stats, highlights, and game time commentary. Second, they know that fans want to interact with actual people and not a bot pumping out data. Not only do the best twitter accounts make the data visually appealing, they are witty with their words.

However, the best NBA twitter accounts give someone a reason to follow them beyond what is happening on the court. The best accounts entertain by including behind-the-scenes looks of practice, pre-game attire, the locker room, boarding the airplane— basically anywhere the typical fan doesn’t have access. They humanize the players by highlighting their personalities, including their work in the community. They creatively interact with other teams, accounts and capitalize on fan favorites. They also incorporate pop culture and current events. All of this makes fans feel like we’re part of the team, too.

The best twitter accounts stand out by striking a balance between being useful and entertaining, humorous and witty, honest and self-deprecating. They are all engaging and consistent. The end result? Fans feel like we’re interacting as opposed to just consuming.

So, how can we take a page out of this playbook and promote Oregon’s agriculture and natural resources?

All of this takes time to plan and create content to share on social media. Maybe you’re tired of spending too much time trying to do it yourself? Not sure how to start? Skeptical about whether it makes a difference? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Oregon Aglink can help. We have a new benefit for our members through a partnership with Western Insights Media, an Oregon-based social media brand management company focused specifically on natural resources. Oregon Aglink members can save on services to manage digital content, and it’s completely customizable, catered specifically to your business’ needs.

Social media is not going away. The natural resource industry cannot hide from it. We must engage – certainly not at the expense of face-to-face connections, but we have to be in the digital space where untrue news and myths about natural resource production proliferate. Information spreads too quickly to ignore its potential impact.

While the majority of brands connected to Oregon agriculture do not have a professional basketball team-sized social media department (or budget) coordinating their posting online, we can work together to leverage one another and promote Oregon’s natural resources as a team effort in the digital world. Email us at info@aglink.org to learn how your business and our industry can gain from this new member benefit!

 

Teacher Appreciation

Michelle Heuberger of St. Mary’s School in Stayton has been involved with the Adopt a Farmer program since 2014, when she was paired with Skip Gray of Gray Family Farms in Dever-Conner. After a few years of class visits and field trips, we thought she’d be the perfect candidate to share the teacher’s perspective of the Adopt a Farmer program.

Q: How did you get started with Adopt a Farmer?

A: I got started with the Adopt a Farmer program when Amy Doerfler contacted me.  She is a member of the Oregon Aglink board of directors and a former St. Mary’s graduate.

 

Q: What do your students think of their farmer, Skip Gray?

 

A: My students LOVE Farmer Skip. He is really good at talking to students on their level and he does so in a fun and engaging way.

 

Q: What is the process like for coordinating your match with Farmer Skip? Has that changed or gotten easier over time?

 

A: Skip and I coordinate our meetings via email.  The process is pretty easy as my schedule is really flexible.  I understand how busy farmers are so I try to work around Skip’s schedule as much as possible.

 

Q: What do the field trips and class visits look like for your match? What do the students get to see and do?

 

A: Skip visits my 7th grade classroom 2-3 times a year.  During those visits we try to coordinate activities which fit into the science lessons I am currently teaching. For example, during an engineering unit we used programmable robots called, Sphero. The students had to design a planter for Sphero to pull through a field. Then, students had to code Sphero to plant the field.  Another example, is when the students were learning about the Periodic Table of Elements, Farmer Skip presented about common fertilizer types. Each type of fertilizer was made up of one to four elements from the Periodic Table and each fertilizer helped to develop plants with specific physical characteristics. Afterwards, students transplanted radish plants and recorded data about the effects of different fertilizers on plant growth.

 

Q: What has been the most valuable part of the Adopt a Farmer program for you as a teacher?

 

A: The most valuable part of the program comes from the real life experiences Farmer Skip is able to share and show the students.  Farming is a big part of our community and modern farming practices are super important for sustainability. Farmer Skip is consistently reminding the students of this.

 

Q: In what ways could these field trips and class visits influence your students in the future? 

 

A: I hope the classroom visits and the field trip influence my students to see that Farming is a very diverse industry to which is directly grown by science and research.  I would love to see students in the program go onto college and look at agriculture in terms of sustainability, engineering, research and as a way to make the world a better place.  Lastly, I hope they grow a new appreciation for how much work it takes to produce food and fibers.

 

Between Farm and Fork

“Where did the onion on this sandwich come from?” asked Mark Dickman, a farmer from Mt. Angel to a classroom full of seventh grade students at Laurel Ridge Middle School in Sherwood during an Adopt a Farmer classroom visit. Students had learned about onion production at Dickman Farms during a field trip and most answers were the store, the farm or the farmers market. While true, these are simple answers in comparison to the complex web of how an onion is grown, harvested, transported, stored, marketed, sold, delivered, distributed, stocked, and so on before a consumer cuts it up for a sandwich.

Farmer Mark diagramed this tangled web highlighting the array of jobs connected to agriculture by peppering students with more questions: How does the onion get to the store? Where does the truck pick up the onions? How did the onions get on the pallet? Students caught on to Farmer Mark’s questions regarding our food system as he went through each item in the picnic lunch he brought to class. This type of exploration gives a more complete story of all of the people involved in between farm and fork.

Not only are students able to better understand the bigger picture of how food is grown and ends up in their lunch, they also realize how many careers there are related to agriculture.

According to a report by USDA and Purdue University, there are an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings every year in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environmental fields across the country. There is a shortage of 22,500 qualified high-skilled workers annually! This is a huge opportunity for the natural resources community to inspire and engage with the next generation who will have careers in management, business, food and biomaterials production, as well as education, communication, and government – all impacting the future of our industry.

We are intentionally weaving career awareness into the Adopt a Farmer program. Students see a variety of jobs on the farm during field trips and we are currently in the process of creating a classroom activity to explore the importance of not only jobs on the farm, but all of those between farm and fork, just like Farmer Mark talked about. By profiling actual people working in careers on and for the farms students have visited, we can help them discover the education required, skills needed, and how science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) play a role in Oregon agriculture today.

The endeavor of showcasing careers in agriculture is not one Oregon Aglink is doing alone.

There has been a groundswell of focus on STEM in K-12 as well as Career and Technical Education (CTE), both of which the natural resource community can engage with and benefit from. Both FFA and 4H promote leadership development through agriculture. Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom will be launching an Agriculture Career Exploration project. Even the Oregon Department of Agriculture has identified “promoting Oregon food and agriculture as an exciting career choice” as a key objective in its recently released 2018-2023 strategic plan.

Winter Olympics & Oregon Wool

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 09: Flag bearer Erin Hamlin of the United States and teammates enter the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images) Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Four years after its wool was featured in Olympic ceremony outfits for Team USA in Sochi, Imperial Stock Ranch is once again part of the thread that connects Oregon agriculture to Winter Olympic history.

Oregon agriculture is no stranger to Korea. Most of the soft white wheat grown in our state is exported to East Asia for noodle and bun production, and that area has been a solid market for berry, nut, and brewing exports as well. In that sense, there’s some good agricultural company for wool to join once it has traveled from Imperial Stock Ranch to National Spinning Co. mills, and from there to Ralph Lauren studios to become sweaters, mittens and hats worn by Olympic athletes.

Wool produced by Dan and Jeanne Carver at their ranch outside of Shaniko, Oregon featured in both the Opening and Closing ceremony uniforms for Team USA in Pyeong Chang this year. While National Spinning Co., Inc. is the official yarn vendor this time around, the story of the wool’s source at Imperial Stock Ranch is as much a selling point for the yarn as its high quality.

Founded nearly a century and a half ago in 1871, Imperial Stock Ranch still runs cattle and sheep, and produces hay and grains, near the ghost town of Shaniko. The Carvers persevered through a market downtown for domestic wool in the 1990s, creating a value-added yarn and clothing business that catered to multiple markets and employed local artisans to produce clothing.  Following their visible relationship with Ralph Lauren during the 2014 Winter Olympics, they continued to grow.  In early 2015, National Spinning Co., Inc., one of the strongest spinning mills in the U.S., proposed a licensing partnership based on Imperial Stock Ranch’s rich history, sustainable practices, and sheep and wool production. Together, National Spinning and Imperial Stock Ranch met with Ralph Lauren’s design and production teams, and presented this new model.  National Spinning launched their Imperial Stock Ranch American Merino branded yarn program later that year.  Their partnership represented a strong business model that brought Ralph Lauren back for the 2018 Olympics.

Throughout it all, the Carvers maintain their roots with the ranch and its chief business: “converting sunlight,” as Jeanne Carver says, into grass that feeds their animals.

The practices at Imperial Stock Ranch made it a pilot audit site for the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), a benchmark set by the Textile Exchange of best practices surrounding animal welfare and land management. In 2017, Imperial Stock Ranch became the first ranch in the world certified under the RWS.

While honoring its 147 year history, the ranch is like many other operations in Oregon that look equally as hard at the future of their land and its productivity in the long run. In Carver’s words, she is most proud of “the management of natural resources, and the interconnected relationship of grazing animals and grasslands. All food, clothing, and shelter begins with the soil. Managing for the health of our soil and systems is good for our family’s future and for all.”

Imperial Stock Ranch, like many other operations in Oregon, is an excellent reminder of the thread between past and future that farmers and ranchers cherish. This second chapter of their story with the Winter Olympics, first in Sochi and then in Pyeong Chang, highlights another important thread, one that spans distances and connects places.

The story of the hats, mittens, and sweaters of Team USA at the Winter Olympics is a special one for Oregon, and both ends of the thread are important. At the one end we have the journey of an Oregon product across the ocean to be appreciated by millions around the world. On the other end we see Dan and Jeanne Carver, the ranchers who made that wool possible on their own patch of soil in Wasco County.

For their part, the Carvers are quick to acknowledge how very neat it all is: “We are very humbled as well as proud to be a small part of Ralph Lauren’s Olympic uniform program,” says Jeanne Carver, “it will always be special.”

Adapt and Embrace: A Salute to John McCulley

Q: Our records show that you started serving on the board of directors in 1988, does that seem right?

A: Wow! Didn’t realize it was that long ago.

Q: How did you get involved with ABC/Oregon Aglink originally?

A: I was executive secretary for the Oregon Fairs Association. At that time and for many years, Aglink (ABC) coordinated the Oregon’s Best Program at county fairs. Aglink also had a presence at the Oregon State Fair. Oregon fairs and Aglink both saw fairs as a way to connect with many non–ag Oregonians.

Q: What do you remember about the Agri-Business Council of Oregon in those years, before it became Oregon Aglink? Are there any campaigns or events you remember fondly?

A: Just as today, the organization has always benefited from dedicated leaders. The crop sign program was the signature activity 30 years ago and it continues to this day. I also fondly recall the first Denim and Diamonds events that were just a wonderful celebration. I think also the Landmark of Quality program with its widely used logo was a foundational campaign in those years.

Q: What are some ways you’ve seen Oregon agriculture and its producers change in the last 30 years?

A: The most obvious, of course, is the rapid adoption of technology. People in agriculture are the most inventive and forward thinking individuals around. I continually marvel at the way producers adapt to changes and how they embrace the most challenging business in the world. Two other things come to mind: the very impressive number of highly skilled young people returning to the farm and the growing number of women leaders in agriculture who are making such a huge, positive impact on the industry.

Q: What’s something that current and future members of the Board of Directors should remember going forward? Any advice or encouragement?

A: Aglink has moved to a higher plane in recent years. The challenge will be to continue to advance. Adopt a Farmer is the best and I only hope that the industry continues to embrace it. Any efforts that show the public (and especially policy–makers) the truth about agriculture are vital.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I will continue to be a part of the agriculture community serving on the boards of the Oregon FFA Foundation and the Oregon Fairs Foundation. I really enjoy my involvement with Rotary where I serve on the club’s foundation board and several committees. Beyond that I’m a volunteer SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) reader, brew beer, garden, try to keep up with our grandson and squeeze in travel along the way. What a great life!

Expanding Horizons: A Salute to Ken Bailey

Ken Bailey of Orchard View Farms

 

Q: Our records show that you’ve been serving on the Board of Directors for quite a while– do you remember what year you joined?

A: I do not remember the year I began serving on the Board of Directors but it was over 10 years ago.  Orchard View Farms had been a member for many years and we have always appreciated those involved in promoting agriculture and a positive image of what agriculture does for the state of Oregon.

 Q: What led you to get involved?

A: I got involved as I have always been interested in encouraging producer involvement in the promoting agriculture.  I have always been involved in various groups representing agriculture and Oregon Aglink was a continuation of that involvement.

Q: What led you to go beyond the Board of Directors and serve on the Oregon Aglink Executive Committee?

A: I served on the Aglink executive committee to do what I could to get others involved.  Getting the younger generations involved in Aglink has energized the organization and it is great to see more and more younger producers getting into leadership position

Q: Why does it make sense for Oregon Aglink to have a member of its Board of Directors from the Columbia Gorge? Flipping that question around, why does it make sense for someone farming in the Columbia Gorge to have a local producer serving on the Oregon Aglink Board of Directors?

A: It is important that Aglink has board members from all regions of the state.  The need to have everyone represented is good for both Aglink and the various regions of the state.  Producers tend to get focused on local issues and it is great to expand horizons and see what other regions of the state have to offer.  We can all learn by better understanding the issues of producers with other interests.

Q: What’s something that current and future members of the Board of Directors should remember going forward? Any advice or encouragement?

A: Going forward, members of the Board of Directors need to remember that all aspects of agriculture need to be represented and we can better represent Oregon agriculture only if we have a good understanding of the vast diversity of what makes up Oregon Agriculture.  This diversity needs to be presented in a positive way to the whole state of Oregon if we are to continue to grow.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: As I move more toward an eventual retirement, I continue to be involved in our family farm and many different local and state organizations, not all of which are directly involved in agriculture.  We need to remember agriculture is a small portion of the state as a whole and we need to communicate with others so that they may have a much better understanding of what Oregon Agriculture is.

Farmers Reap Tax Benefit from Donated Food

curtis-sawyer-750x750BY CURTIS SAWYER, CPA

No one wants to see hard grown crops go to waste, but surplus crops happen. Fortunately, a recent tax law change has created an opportunity for farmers to support their communities by donating surplus crops to hunger relief organizations in exchange for a charitable donations tax deduction.

What is the potential benefit for my farm?

Cash basis growers can now deduct 50% of the fair market value of donated food to qualified organizations.

How does the charitable donations tax deduction work with my surplus crops?

A special rule permits an enhanced charitable contribution deduction for food donations to qualified organizations. The deduction is the lesser of:

  • twice your tax basis of the donated food, or
  • your tax basis plus one-half of the appreciation (the difference between fair market value and tax basis).

Cash basis growers have not previously been able to benefit from the food donation tax deduction since their basis is zero (because they do not record inventory costs), but Congress recently passed legislation permitting cash basis taxpayers to elect to deem the tax basis as 25% of the fair market value of the donated food.

What food qualifies for the charitable donations deduction?

The food must be “apparently wholesome”, which is defined by the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act as “food that meets all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State, and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions.” The description is intentionally broad to ensure food that might be a little unattractive or nearing the end of its life will not go to waste.

What organizations qualify to receive my food donations?

The recipient must be a qualified tax-exempt organization, and the food must be used for the care of the ill, the needy, or infants. Your local food bank most likely qualifies, and there are also many hunger relief organizations willing to accept donated crops.

Is there a limit to the food donation tax deduction?

The deduction cannot exceed 15% of your net income for the year. If you cannot use it all in one year, it can be carried forward for future use.

How do I claim my charitable donations tax deduction for donated crops?

To claim the deduction, the receiving organization will need to provide you a written statement confirming the donated food will be used exclusively for the care of the ill, the needy, or infants. This statement will need to be in hand by the tax return filing date.

Additionally, the following information should be maintained for each donation:

  • Description of the food
  • Name and address of organization receiving the donation
  • Date of donation
  • Fair market value of the food on the date of the donation, and
  • How the fair market value was determined (comparable sales, etc.)

For example, say Aldrich Farms is a cash basis farm growing vegetables. As harvest comes to a close, Aldrich Farms has an abundance of green beans. The green beans have a fair market value of $100,000 and no tax basis because all costs to grow the beans have been expensed along the way. The bumper crop has buyers at capacity, and Aldrich Farms is short on storage so instead of paying to store, sell, transport or dispose of the excess, Aldrich Farms reaches out to the local food bank to see if they have a need for the green beans. The local food bank happily accepts the donation and provides Aldrich Farms with the necessary documentation to support the deduction. Come tax time, Aldrich Farms takes a deduction for $50,000 (50% of the fair market value), which assuming a 40% tax rate, results in a tax savings of $20,000.

If you have excess crops and are looking to take the next steps in earning a food donation tax deduction, please reach out to our Aldrich Agribusiness team. We are here to talk through all of your donation considerations and can even help you find a hunger relief organization.

 

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