Margarita Pons (right) harvests beans with husband Teo on their plot at SCLT’s Urban Edge Farm, one of several sites the pair farms in small scale, including their yard in South Providence.
We need your to help change tax relief programs for farms in Rhode Island. They were written over 30 years ago and prioritize midsized and large scale agricultural operations while leaving out the small and urban farmers who are vital to our local food system. Put simply, larger agricultural producers are eligible for certain tax exemptions. But these benefits do not exist for the more than 250 community gardens, urban, or small farms in operation in our state today, many of which are operated by low-income farmers of color.
The state has set goals to increase local agricultural production and land conservation. Agricultural tax relief programs, as currently designed, do not accomplish these goals. Including small and urban farms will support them to meet critical community needs like economic opportunity, nutrition security, and education.
The Rhode Island Food Policy Council‘s 2024 legislative agenda focuses on addressing this inequity with the Small & Urban Farmer Success bill. The bill proposes farms working less than five acres and earning less than $3,000 in annual income are eligible for tax breaks designed specifically to support their operations. SCLT has been central to this effort, spearheaded by Food Access Associate Amelia Lopez, who works with farmers, gardeners, community partners, and legislators to bring attention to the disparities facing small and urban farmers. SCLT heads to the State House on March 28, 2 to 4:30pm, for the RIFPC’s first annual Advocacy Day to highlight this bill.
While these proposed incentives would have minimal impact on the state’s tax revenue, they would significantly – and positively – affect farmers’ abilities to invest in their farm businesses and, in turn, building resilience in our food system.
Click to read more about the RIFPC’s 2024 legislative agenda and learn how you can get involved in the movement to support small and urban farmers in our state.
SIGN THE LETTER to RI Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Speaker of the House Joe Shekarchi and encourage them to secure tax relief for local farmers in 2024.