Timber Communities Need Relief from Both Covid-19 And A Forecast of An Increased Natural Disasters

FLA is calling for Congress to finally provide much-needed financial certainty during the COVID-19 crisis for forest farmers, ensuring rural communities that depend on a timber economy will have the financial certainty to replant their lands after the loss of timber due to a natural disaster.  More than 20 members of Congress sent a letter to Congressional Leadership urging them to incorporate the fix in a future economic stimulus recovery package.  Echoing the need for action to fix the casualty loss issue, 30 national and state forestry stakeholders sent a letter to Congressional Leadership with the same message: Not including the Forest Recovery Act in an economic stimulus response to COVID-19 will leave rural communities in significant jeopardy:

  • Extended and severe droughts are once again expected to result in more frequent and erratic wildfires along much of the U.S. West Coast.
  • Weather modeling suggest, Atlantic hurricanes, which generally form between June 1 and November 30, are more likely than average to make landfall this year.
  • Devastation from extreme weather events has spiked sharply in recent years, both in the intensity and frequency.
  • Natural disasters impact all regions of the country, impacting forestland in rural communities across the nation.

Working Forests are key to bolstering rural community resilience

  • Working forests are vital to rural job security.
  • Keeping land in forest use is vital to sustaining rural communities after extreme weather events.
  • Reclaiming degraded lands after natural disasters and increasing the resilience of working lands by putting them back into forests use as quickly as possible is necessary to healthy ecosystems and clean and safe drinking water.

As COVID-19 and the shutdown of the American economy has created an uncertain future for the economic viability of forest landowners, the cost of not fixing the unintended casualty loss IRS code is significant. The casualty loss fix will give landowners economic certainty that their long-term investment will not result in a total financial loss should their timber be destroyed by a natural disaster. In turn, this safety net will ensure degraded forest lands are quickly reforested, instantly creating short and long-term rural jobs, as well as maintaining the land as forests. In addition to supporting rural jobs, the FRA ensures a long-term robust timber market in the United States, safeguarding our domestic supply of timber, and fueling our nation’s supply chains for essential everyday products made from wood and fiber.

Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) reads FLA’s talking points advocating for fixing the casualty loss of timber tax code during the The Forest Working Caucus Zoom meeting with members of congress engaging in a dialogue of how COVID-19 has impacted the supply chain and landowners