RL33917 - Forestry in the 2007 Farm Bill
23-Jun-2008; Ross W. Gorte; 20 p.
Update: Previous releases:
January 25, 2008
August 20, 2007
March 14, 2007
Abstract: The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 farm bill) became law (P.L. 110-246) when the House and Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto on June 18, 2008. The conference agreement on the bill (H.R. 2419) had been enacted, vetoed by the President, and overridden (P.L. 110-234), but inadvertently excluded the trade title. Both chambers repassed the conference agreement (with the trade title) as H.R. 6124; it was again vetoed and again overridden as P.L. 110-246.
The 2008 farm bill contains a forestry title and forestry provisions in other titles. General forestry legislation is within the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Committees, and past farm bills have included provisions addressing forestry, especially on private lands. Most federal forestry programs are permanently authorized, and thus do not require reauthorization in the farm bill.
The forestry title (Title VIII) of the 2008 farm bill amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-313; 16 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2114) in several ways. It adds national priorities for forestry assistance, requires statewide forest assessments, creates a new community forest and open space conservation program (to protect forests threatened with conversion to non-forest uses), establishes a new Coordinating Committee, adds an Emergency Forest Restoration Program, and authorizes competitive allocation for some forestry assistance funding. The title also directs cooperation and collaboration with Indian tribes, amends the Lacey Act to restrict imports of illegally logged wood products, authorizes changes to certain national forest timber contracts, and provides grants to Hispanic-serving institutions. In addition, it reauthorizes and extends four existing programs.
Other titles also contain provisions affecting forestry. The conservation title (Title II) modifies most programs to include forestry activities and directs the creation of infrastructure for environmental services markets (including carbon markets). The trade title (Title III) includes a section that requires lumber importers to report on imports and fees paid, to assure implementation of the 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement. The energy title (Title IX) includes woody biomass in many programs. Finally, the tax title (Title XV) includes provisions to authorize new tax-exempt forest conservation bonds, to modify income deductions for qualified timber income, and to modernize and clarify the tax treatment of timber real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Other forestry provisions were suggested by various interests, and might be considered in the next farm bill. Funding is one issue, as half the mandatory spending for the Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP) was cancelled and the program was not reauthorized. Protecting communities from wildfire continues to be a priority for some, while controlling invasive species is a priority for others. Assisting forest-dependent communities in diversifying their economies has also been debated. Finally, some have expressed interest in trying to provide payments for ecosystem services — forest values that have not traditionally been sold in the marketplace.