Why It’s Important
The Farm Bill is a major source of forestry related funding and incentive programs.
Even though the nation’s privately owned forests are challenged by urbanization, fragmentation, and forest health problems, they remain amazingly resilient and productive.
To continue that trend, it is critical that government and private sectors work together so that forest landowners are encouraged by appropriate policies and incentives.
Private forest landownership is a great American success story. Privately managed forests are productive and abundant. Every American enjoys the bounty of forests through clean water, clean air, recreational opportunities, and the thousands of products derived from the 423 million acres of privately owned forestlands.
We believe that research and education programs such as those available through McIntire-Stennis, RREA, and CSREES are the most appropriate use of government funding. We favor the broadest definition of “renewable biomass” in the Farm Bill. Where other government programs exist, we prefer tax-based incentives rather than direct cash subsidies. Where subsidy programs exist they should be efficiently run and use private sector service-providers to the maximum extent possible.
FLA has sent a letter to the Senate and House Committees with jurisdiction over the Farm Bill, advocating for the following:
- Definitions of biomass in all future legislation should be as broad and unrestricted as possible. Despite concerns of forest depletion with any new demand on the resource, all recent studies on forest growth indicate that forest growth is exceeding harvest and loss from fire, wind, disease, and insects.
- Develop support for technological advancement that facilitates utilization of low value biomass such as harvesting techniques and transportation issues. Efficient utilization of fiber from fire, insect and disease killed trees will contribute to forest health and protection while helping to meet our nation’s energy needs.
- Incentivize and accelerate development wood?to?energy technologies that utilize low-value woody biomass resources. This along with other value-added products, would help to recover much of the lost infrastructure in timber communities throughout the United States, while at the same time promoting healthy forests, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating jobs.
- Research, development, and education programs such as those available through McIntire-Stennis, The Renewable Resources Extension Act Program (RREA), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) are the most appropriate use of government funding.
- Where other government programs exist, institute tax?based incentives rather than direct cash subsidies. Where subsidy programs exist they should be efficiently run and use private sector service-providers to the maximum extent possible.
Keville Larson’s testimony.
The Senate and House are expected to begin work on new farm bills later this year after failing to get legislation passed in the 112th Congress. The Senate passed its version of the bill, which eliminated some farm subsidy programs, including direct payments, which cost about $5 billion a year. The House Agriculture committee passed its version of the bill, but House leaders refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, after a fight over cuts in the food stamps program threatened to divide Republicans.
Lawmakers extended the current farm bill, first passed in 2008, to Sept. 30, 2013.