Federal Legislation Updates

by Cate Moore on June 12, 2013

We haven’t been reporting on federal legislation lately.  The California state venue has been more than active enough to keep us busy.  Still, it is a topic that needs some attention, so here is what our sister organizations have been monitoring in Congress.

The respective House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill have each passed out of their respective Agriculture Committees in mid-May.  The Senate version passed the Senate floor on June 10 and the House is scheduled to begin debating their version on June 17.  Both bills include what the American Forest Foundation refers to as “huge wins for forest owners”.  The bills provides five year funding for:

  • access to conservations tools and resources
  • access to the USDA Biobased Markets Program
  • support for programs that combat pests and pathogens
  • forest inventory research

Specifics on the two bills can be seen here.

Weigh in on this topic with Congress through the American Tree Farm System here.

The Forest Products Fairness Act of 2013 (H.R. 979/S. 463) seeks to qualify American grown and made forest products for the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program.  As currently implemented, most forest products have been excluded from the program.  Since California forestry practices, especially those in the Santa Cruz Mountains, are demonstrably sustainable, our forest products should qualify easily.  Write your representatives and remind them that actions like this help ensure that our private forest lands remain forests.

The American Tree Farm System/American Forest Foundation is spearheading a campaign called Free the Trees to get federal support for programs that combat forest pests and pathogens, including continued support for the Forest Health Management Program and the Forest Stewardship Program.

The Forest Landowners Association is asking for support for H.R. 2026 and S. 971, the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act, which will preserve the EPA’s policy of treating forest roads as nonpoint sources of  pollution under the Clean Water Act.  The pollutant to be regulated is sediment, and this has been effectively managed for years by normal Best Management Practices.  The EPA policy of using these BMPs has been challenged through litigation by a small, if persistent, environmental group from Washington.  The law suits have been working their way through the courts, but the permanent answer is legislation that encodes the existing policy in law.  Register your support here.

The Forest Landowners Associations and many other regional forestry organizations have been working to ensure that timber tax provisions reflect the nature of forestry as a business in any changes to the federal tax code.  This is still in the Working Group stage, so there isn’t anything available yet for study or comment.


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