WASHINGTON, DC –The Forest Landowners Association (FLA) commends the introduction of H.R. 655: The Disaster Reforestation Act, bipartisan legislation designed to allow private forest landowners to recover from the loss of timber destroyed by natural disasters. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), would provide economic certainty that is currently lacking by fixing the tax code and allowing forest landowners the ability to replant trees quickly.
Private forest landowners include families and small timber companies that manage their land to not only produce wood products but to keep their forests healthy and productive to pass down to the next generation. These landowners face immense financial burdens when needing to reforest their lands after a natural disaster, which is often compounded at tax time when they find their ability to claim a casualty loss for destroyed timber is limited, often to zero dollars.
“America’s private forest landowners have been waiting for this fix in the tax code for a long time, and as wildfire and hurricane seasons ramp up, they are appreciative of Representative Carter’s and Sewell’s efforts to get this important bill moving,” said Scott Jones, FLA’s Chief Executive Officer. “The legislation will not only help timber owners recover from natural disasters but will stimulate rural economies, support our nation’s domestic timber supply, and provide environmental benefits to the nation.”
With the introduction of this bill, Representatives Carter and Sewell are demonstrating that they understand the importance of forest landowners to rural economies, the domestic wood supply, and the environment. This bill will provide for the equitable tax treatment of casualty loss of their timber crop when disaster strikes.
“Forestry is a vital part of rural economies all across our country,” said Rep. Carter. “Unfortunately, the current tax code provides no recourse for working forests struck by natural disasters. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Sewell and our partners from across the country to address this issue. The Disaster Reforestation Act will ensure timber farming is a viable way of life, protecting the many jobs and consumer products it supports and its positive impact to our environment.”
Georgia and Alabama have 43 million acres of private forestland combined that provide 267,000 jobs generating $7 billion in salaries and wages. By replanting these forests after the devastation of a natural disaster, Georgia and Alabama’s rural economies are stronger, water and air are cleaner, and private forest are regenerated for the future.
“Alabama’s forests play a critical role in keeping our economy and environment healthy,” said Rep. Sewell. “Tragically, our private forest owners are often left devastated as a result of severe storms and natural disasters. As we continue to recover from the storms that struck Alabama on January 12th, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Disaster Reforestation Act which will offer a helping hand to Alabama’s private forest owners as they work to reforest after natural disasters.”
With the increase in natural disasters across the United States and no efficient tools for private forest landowners to recover, this is an issue of national importance that deserves a federal solution. FLA looks forward to working with Congress to advance this commonsense legislation with Representatives Carter and Sewell leading the way.