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Tax Credit for Urban Agriculture in Food Deserts

January 31, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Elena Bickell

Food deserts are areas where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Living in food deserts impacts a multitude of factors including: food security, food affordability, federal nutrition program participation, health outcomes, economic and social attainments, real estate prices, and more. In 2022, several bills propose tax incentives to increase availability of nutritious and healthy foods within the food desert areas of Missouri. SB 717, HB 1570, HB 1919, and HB 2020 authorize tax credits for urban farms located in food deserts. SB 717 also allows a taxpayer to claim a tax credit against a taxpayer's state tax liability and authorizes a tax credit equal to 50% of a taxpayer's expenses incurred in the construction or development of an urban farm located in a food desert. SB 790 authorizes a tax credit for full-service grocery stores and is unique from the other four bills, because it is not restricted to urban areas and authorizes tax credits on expenses incurred from the construction or establishment of a full-service grocery store in a food desert in the state of Missouri. 


  • Living in a food desert contributes to the lack of access to healthy foods and can negatively affect health. 
  • Urban agriculture plays a vital role in supporting local food systems in food deserts and can improve food security and food safety. Individuals who grow or sell products in urban farms tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Fruits and vegetables that are raised in urban farms can be more expensive, and geographic distance and lack of technical training can be barriers to low-income households’ ability to afford urban-produced foods.
  • Soil contamination may pose a challenge to the safety of food grown in urban agriculture settings.


  • Most studies on the impacts of urban agriculture on food security are theoretical and it is hard to measure their effectiveness over other food-security measures.
  • It is hard to measure and evaluate the impacts that urban agriculture has on food deserts because studies do not always differentiate between the impacts of gardens that grow food for personal consumption and urban farms that grow food for sale.


This Note has been updated. You can access the previous version here: (published in December 2020).

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