Hardwood Federation Provides Farm Bill Update

The Hardwood Federation says the timing of the 2024 Fly-In to D.C. could not have been better. Immediately following the group’s day on Capitol Hill on May 22, the House Agriculture Committee reviewed, marked up and moved its version of the Farm Bill out of Committee on a surprisingly bipartisan vote. The bill is positive for the hardwood industry in several ways:

  • The Market Access and Foreign Market Development programs which are reauthorized at double current funding levels, a high-level priority for the Hardwood Federation and a key topic of fly-in conversations.
  • The bill includes language specifying forest-based biomass energy as carbon neutral, an issue the federation has been aggressively working on for years and a fly-in issue. Although the language applies only to Department of Agriculture policymaking, we are encouraged that we have a toehold in the underlying bill and will look to broaden the provision’s scope to other departments as we move along in the process.
  • Provisions of the Jobs in the Woods Act, supported by the federation, are also included in the Farm Bill. Forestry and forest products sectors are added to the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) program—an existing program at USDA that focuses on workforce development through issuance of grant funding.
  • Reauthorization of the Community Wood Grant Program for another five years as well as the Wood Innovation Grant program were moved forward. These two initiatives have funneled millions of dollars in grants across the country on construction projects utilizing mass timber, as well as energy efficiency and equipment upgrades at sawmills.
  • The bill also includes provisions authorizing broad Categorical Exclusions (CEs) to expedite forest management projects on federal forestlands.

The Farm Bill weighs in at more than 900 pages, and the Hardwood Federation team continues to wade through its many provisions. It is unclear when the legislation will be considered on the House floor and approval is far from certain as the bill has come under withering criticism from Democrats over its treatment of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides food benefits to low-income families to supplement their grocery budgets.

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Visit the Hardwood Federation’s website to view photos from the 2024 Fly-In.

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