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Tim Stoner

Tim Stoner

Provided

Last fall, several farmers in Porter County gifted a small but generous portion of their harvest to help school children and their families establish college savings plans.

These farmers and the community they live in have chosen to support Promise Porter County, a powerful new initiative led by the Porter County Community Foundation and the Valparaiso Family YMCA.

Promise Porter County is a comprehensive community partnership that links elementary school students with a College Choice 529 Savings Plan. The program also includes a curriculum-based emphasis on the importance of education after high school and a visit to a local college.

Popularly known as The Gift of Grain program, farmers deliver bushels of corn and beans to their local grain terminal in the name of the Porter County Community Foundation’s Ag Community Initiative Fund. The Foundation authorizes the sale of the grain and receives the proceeds.

Cash generated from these donations is divided between the Promise Porter County program and the Ag Community Endowment Fund. This allows Gift of Grain donors the unique opportunity to support an important program today, while setting aside assets to benefit our community in the future. Last year, farmers donated $16,600 to this initiative.

“The Gift of Grain project was a huge asset to the Promise Porter County program,” said Bill Higbie, president and CEO of the Porter County Community Foundation. “The idea is so unique, it got the attention of Prosperity Now, a national organization dedicated to supporting college savings for kids, and was mentioned in their October newsletter,” he added.

For philanthropic-minded farmers, donating grain might be better than making a cash donation.

A cash-based farmer can deduct full production costs on the donated bushels without realizing the taxable income from the sale. This results in savings on federal, state, county and self-employment taxes which would typically amount to more than a standard charitable deduction for a cash gift.

Efforts are underway to build upon last year’s success. Gift of Grain organizers hope to encourage more farmers to be part of this great project so we can truly grow the future of Porter County.

Tim Stoner is owner of Woody-View Farm in Valparaiso. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter/LaPorte County Editor

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.