Introduced by: Councilmembers David Grosso, Mary Cheh, and Tommy Wells
Co-sponsored by: Councilmembers Muriel Bowser, Kenyan McDuffie, and Phil Mendelson
Referred to: Committee of the Whole and Committee on Finance and Revenue
What are the major components of the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014?
This legislation establishes an initiative that first identifies and then leases certain District-owned vacant lots to independent farmers and farm cooperatives to be used for successful urban farming ventures. It also creates tax incentives to encourage more individuals and businesses to farm locally and donate locally farmed vegetables, fruits, and grains to D.C. food banks or shelters.
Why should the District lease its vacant property to local farmers?
Activating vacant unimproved properties owned by the District and owned privately is important. Not only would this effort help to ensure that these properties are environmentally safe, but also that they are a welcomed, safe attraction in communities.
What would be the process for individuals or organizations looking to lease land?
If approved and signed into law, by February 2015, the Mayor would need to identify 25 District-owned vacant lots that can potentially be used for successful urban farming ventures. The Mayor would then develop a Request for Proposal process for applications.
How long would leases last for under this initiative?
All lease agreements entered into under this initiative would be for a term of at least 3 years.
Will farmers be able to sell produce on the property?
Yes. Any lease entered into pursuant to this initiative with an independent farm or farm cooperative may permit the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables on the leased land, off the leased land, or both.
Is it true that your bill would provide property tax abatement for leasing vacant land to farmers?
Yes. Under this legislation, if an owner of unimproved real property enters into a lease with an unrelated party for the use of its real property for the purpose of producing food commodity through small-scale urban farming, there shall be allowed a 50% deduction from the real property tax imposed on the portion of leased real property actually used for small-scale farming.
What are the eligibility requirements for the property tax abatement?
In order to be eligible for the tax abatement under this section, any lease agreement shall include, but is not limited to, all the following provisions, and the parties thereto shall be in compliance therewith:
- An initial term of not less than three years;
- Active use and cultivation of at least 5,000 square feet of the real property;
- A requirement that the entire property subject to the lease shall be dedicated toward agriculture use; and
- A prohibition against any dwelling units (as defined in § 47-813(d)(3)) on the real property.
What kind of tax incentive does the bill provide to individuals who donate to D.C. food banks or shelters?
A taxpayer may claim a nonrefundable credit against income taxes for food commodity donations made during the tax year to a District of Columbia food bank or shelter. The credit claimed shall equal 50% of the value of the contribution and shall not to exceed $2,500 per taxpayer per tax year.
What kind of tax incentive does the bill provide to businesses who donate to D.C. food banks or shelters?
A business may claim a nonrefundable credit against business taxes for food commodity donations made during the tax year to a District of Columbia food bank or shelter. The credit claimed shall equal 50% of the value of the contribution and shall not to exceed $5,000 per taxpayer per tax year.
How will these tax incentives be monitored?
Individuals and businesses claiming the tax credit or property tax abatement will need to provide documentation supporting the claim in a form and manner prescribed by the Chief Financial Officer.
Why is this legislation important?
D.C. residents at all times have access to sufficient safe nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life. Food security is built on three pillars: food availability; food access; and food use. By the District leasing its unused vacant property throughout the city to independent farmers and community farm cooperatives it allows our residents to claim direct access to healthy food by growing, harvesting and processing it themselves. By incentivizing more individuals and businesses to proactively donate to local food banks or homeless shelters we can support organizations like Miriam’s Kitchen that manages to make wonderful meals for our most vulnerable residents out of very little, day-in and day-out.