During this challenging time, rest assured that the Forest Landowners Association‘s priority is the health and safety of our members and your economic stability. We also know it is important first and foremost to keep people safe and get resources to those most in need.
We appreciate what you do for America’s robust forest landscape and the forestry supply chain. We know that the vitality of America’s private forests is your life’s work and legacy. As such we understand the importance of forestry-related businesses to be able to continue the work of forest management and supplying raw materials for this critical supply chain.
Stay Informed and Advocate
Please take a moment to review these resources. We at FLA are working to provide you with the information you need to stay informed and to advocate for our sector during these trying times. If and when additional stimulus packages are assembled and proposed, we will continue to support you, your business, and your livelihood.
These resources will be updated as new developments occur.
Resources for Private Forest Landowners and Forestry Businesses
As more states issue shelter-in-place directives, they will consider what constitutes “critical infrastructure” and “critical infrastructure workers.” The Department of Homeland Security has updated the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA Guidance) that identifies essential infrastructure and workers during COVID-19 response. The change provides additional clarity to the critical manufacturing section of the CISA guidance for workers supporting supply chains of essential businesses. Version 1.1 of CISA Guidance document can be found here.
The guidance includes “workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper and other wood products” in this designation.
What You Can Do to Advocate for Forestry Workers as Essential Workers: If an executive order has not yet been issued in your state, we encourage you to reach out to your state representatives and governors to let them know that forestry workers should be included as critical infrastructure workers, so that normal operations can continue even during a shelter-in-place directive.
Congress has completed two rounds of legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. These include an $8.3 billion supplemental appropriation (round 1) signed into law on March 6 as well as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (round 2), which President Donald Trump signed into law on March 18.
On March 27th President Trump signed into law the historic $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Provisions most notable to forestry-related businesses included:
- Employer portion of payroll tax is deferred for 2020. Half of 2020 payroll tax is now due by end of 2021, the second half is due by end of 2022.
- There was no change to bonus depreciation, however Qualified Improvement Property was fixed, so updates to existing buildings can be deducted, this could impact the lumber mills that make changes to their facilities. Qualified Improvement Property is defined as any improvement to an interior portion of a building that is nonresidential real property as long as that improvement is placed in service after the building was first placed in service by any taxpayer (Section 168(k)(3))
- Business interest deduction increased to 50% of taxable income from 30%
- Loss carry back for five years for any losses in 2018, 2019, or 2020 for both NOLs (Net Operating Loss) and excess business losses.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides relief for small businesses that have trouble covering payroll and operating expenses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new law creates a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program, called the “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP), that expands benefits and eligibility for SBA disaster loans, covers payments on existing SBA loans, and creates new tax credits to help cover the cost of paid leave and payroll.
We have summary information and online resources for all program offered to small business provided by the CARES Act available – click here.
The Department of Transportation has issued a waiver for the regulation of interstate commercial drivers licenses (CDLs) and learners permits (CLPs). This waiver may have a positive impact for drivers serving in the forestry sector.
Our colleagues at Forest Resources Association (FRA) have compiled a web-based tool documenting the impact of COVID-19 on the forest products industry. This page is being regularly updated with the most current information about directive impacting the wood supply chain and may serve as a useful tool to track rules and regulations affecting your specific geography.
The EPA has announced they will temporarily suspend enforcement of civil violations of environmental laws during the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, the EPA will not seek penalties for noncompliance with routine monitoring and reporting obligations during this time. While this is a temporary policy, the EPA has set no end date. To determine whether this suspension of enforcement actions applies to your business. Click here for the full policy.
Critical infrastructure employee templates can help communicate their status utilizing these ‘template letters’ for areas that have a ‘shelter in place’ order. Thanks to NAFO and AWC for these timely resources.