A California lawmaker is proposing grower tax incentives in an effort he says would fight obesity.

Bill calls for tax breaks to small produce operations

Congressman Joe Baca, D-Calif., has introduced the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grower Tax Incentive Act, a bill that would provide a $10,000 tax credit for produce growers with less than $500,000 in farm income.

“The thinking behind it (the bill) is to increase the supply,” said John Lowrey, Baca’s communications director.

The bill is designed to address a 2009 U.S. Department of Agriculture report that found what the department called “food deserts,” especially in low-income communities, Lowrey said. Food deserts are areas where residents have access to few or no large retail grocery markets and, subsequently, limited supplies of fresh produce.

“An estimated 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts,” Baca said in a news release. “This responsible bill provides incentives that will increase the number of fruit and vegetable growers in America and help to end the food access crisis that is negatively impacting the health of our nation.”

The bill targets small farmers, especially those in more urban settings, Lowrey said, and “could mean among other things more urban farmers’ markets, which would make it easier for consumers to connect with existing Farm to School programs.”