Farm Bill: S.2346
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 House and Senate Agriculture Committees will both draft their version of the 2012 Farm Bill that we expect will vary in degrees. It remains unclear if eaither version will be able to make it to the President's desk prior to the end of the year.
A series of four Senate Agriculture Farm Bill hearings kicks-off February 15, 2012 with an examination of energy and economic growth opportunities in rural America. In preparation for the hearing, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) requested the Forest Landowners Association submit key priorities of importance to private forest landowners. This request followed a one-on-one meeting FLA CEO Scott Jones had in January with committee staff to strengthen relationships and emphasis FLA’s value in being able to serve as a resource on policy issues.
In the letter to Chairwoman Stabenow, FLA outlined 5 key priorities for consideration:
1. Broad, all inclusive definition of biomass
2. Development of technological advancement
3. Incentivize and accelerate development wood-to-energy technologies
4. Research, development, and education programs (McIntire-Stennis, RREA)
5. Tax-based incentives vs. direct subsidies