FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2021
Bipartisan Tax Legislation Introduced to Help Georgia Forest Landowners Recover After Natural Disasters
WASHINGTON, DC – Private forest landowners in Georgia and around the nation are applauding the introduction of bi-partisan HR 4210: The Disaster Reforestation Act, sponsored by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Buddy Carter (R-GA), which allows family and private timber growers to recover from the loss of timber destroyed by natural disasters and reforest their lands.
Georgia’s private forest owners own 21.6 million acres of forestland and include families and small timber companies that produce products like lumber. These landowners face immense financial burdens when needing to reforest their lands after a natural disaster, which is often compounded at tax time when private forest owners find their ability to claim a casualty loss for destroyed timber is limited, often to zero dollars.
Reforestation is vital to the viability of the private forest owners not only to ensure a solid timber harvest down the road but for environmental benefits as well. An often-unseen benefit of these forest owners is that while they are growing trees, they are also sequestering carbon – a big contributor to the slowing of climate change. In fact, in Georgia, alone these forests sequester carbon emissions from 3.7 million cars.
“Congressional lawmakers are looking at the country’s 455 million acres of private forests as a major solution to achieving a lower carbon future, a significant contributor to clean air and water, and a way to protect wildlife,” said Forest Landowner Association (FLA) CEO Scott Jones. “While private forests do provide all these environmental benefits, we cannot keep counting on forest landowners to maintain those forests when faced with the devastation of a natural disaster taking out their timber without the funds to help them recover. We need economically strong forest landowners, and the Disaster Reforestation Act is an important step in the right direction to keep these working forests healthy.”
Representatives Sewell and Carter have shown that they understand how important forest landowners are to rural economies, strong domestic wood supply and as a natural climate solution. The introduction of this bill will provide for the equitable tax treatment of casualty loss of their timber crop when disaster strikes.
“Since day one in office, Congressman Carter has been a champion of forest landowner issues. Working and meeting with forest landowners on the ground and witnessing the tremendous losses they incurred with fire and other catastrophic events, he introduced the initial legislation to fix the limitation on casualty losses of timber in the tax code,” commented Joe Hopkins, fourth-generation forest landowner, Folkston, GA. “He has demonstrated incredible commitment towards achieving this goal.”
Fixing the casualty loss issue would provide an immediate and permanent solution for Georgia’s forest landowners to keep their forests working – a vital part of Georgia’s economy and environmental health.
In addition to the other benefits listed, Georgia’s private forests:
- Support $36 billion in economic activity and 148,000 jobs.
- Contribute $978 million in tax revenue.
- Provide safe drinking water for 1 million Georgians.
- Provide oxygen for 220 million Georgia residents.
In addition to FLA, more than 35 other forestry and conservation organizations support fixing the tax treatment of timber casualty losses.
Additional Support from Georgia Landowners and Organizations
“We applaud Congressman Carter’s leadership on behalf of working forests by introducing the Disaster Reforestation Act. Recent major disasters have made clear that we need a permanent, lasting solution in law to provide timberland owners with the resources they need to bounce back after disaster strikes. This solution is not only vital to keep the forest economy healthy but allow all 10 million Georgians to benefit from clean air, clean water, recreation, and the myriad of other ecological benefits our working forests provide us all.” – Georgia Forestry Association
Additional quotes from national organizations can be found online at forestlandowners.com/distaster_reforestation_act_support/.