On February 7, President Obama signed a five-year Farm Bill including important provisions for whichFRA and other pro-forestry advocates had campaigned for over several years. Thanks to the manyFRA members who made contacts with key legislators over the past two weeks, to emphasize the importance of the Farm Bill’s pro-forestry provisions.
In terms of forestry, the Farm Bill:
- Limits EPA’s regulatory reach and “citizen suits” over forest road stormwater run-off—adopting the most important terms of the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act;
- Includes forest products within the labeling and procurement preferences of the USDA “bio-based” program, which previously excluded them, as long as they meet a reasonable standard of “innovation”;
- Improves access for family forest landowners to conservation programs, such as the Conservation Stewardship Program;
- Permanently authorizes the Stewardship Contracting Program, which enables entrepreneurship opportunities for logging contractors and others in forest health and other improvement projects on federal land;
- Reforms the USDA Forest Inventory & Analysis program to make its data more useful for practical supply projections.
Unfortunately, Farm Bill conferees deleted from the Bill a provision to roll-back EPA’s general permitting program for pesticides (including forest herbicides) which would have restored regulation through compliance with the approved product label.
Thanks again to all FRA members for their active participation in this strong grassroots push! Sending a thank-you note to any legislators who responded to your appeal to support the inclusion of pro-forestry provisions in the Farm Bill, and supported passage on the House and Senate floor, is a great way to affirm and strengthen your influence as a constituent. Lists of the most important supporters of a Forest Road fix, with specifics on their preliminary and final Farm Bill votes, are posted at this link (Senate) and this link (House).