On Friday February 7th, the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law, finally marking the end of the legislation's tortuous 2 1/2-year journey. While most of the Farm Bill's expense will go toward the SNAP program and subsidies for commodities and crop insurance, the Farm Bill did include some important legislation to help Wisconsin and the nation's forest industry as well.
"Since her election in November of 2012 Senator Tammy Baldwin has been very supportive of Northern Wisconsin and in particular the Forest Products Industry" said Great Lakes Timber Professionals President Mark Huempfner. "She has held to her word and while the Farm Bill may not be perfect, it does contain several tools that will keep the forest products industry working and improve forest management on our National Forests."
Items worth noting:
- The Farm Bill addresses regulatory uncertainty that resulted from a court case and clarifies that forest roads don't need run-off permits. This provision ensures that forest managers won't have to face additional paperwork related to their road maintenance.
- The Farm Bill also permanently extends stewardship contracting authority, which was set to expire. This will ensure that when these contracts are put in place, loggers and contractors can be certain their work won't be disrupted by a change in the program. This change strengthens stewardship contracts, which are just one tool in the toolkit for harvesting timber and ensuring long-term forest health in our National Forests.
- Many of our national forest acres are threatened by insect infestation and disease. To address these risks to forest health, the bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture to designate treatment areas for forestlands that have been especially hard-hit. The bill also allows the Secretary, where appropriate, to treat acres to improve stand health and resilience.
- The Farm Bill reauthorizes Good Neighbor Authority and makes it available, for the first time, nationwide. This allows the Forest Service to delegate to State Foresters the implementation of certain forestry projects. This will allow states to partner with the Forest Service to improve watershed conditions, increase timber management, and protect communities from wildfire on our federal forests.
The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) is a non-profit organization that is committed to leading the Forest Products industry in sustainable forest management through advocacy, professionalism, service to members, education and training.
The GLTPA has represented members in Wisconsin and Michigan for over 65 years. GLTPA members include loggers, truckers, sawmills, paper manufacturers, private and commercial forest landowners, forestry professionals and outdoor recreational enthusiasts. Learn more here >>