PDF _ R41213 - Forestry in the Next Farm Bill
29-Apr-2010; Ross W. Gorte; 9 p.

Abstract: Forest management generally, as well as forest research and forestry assistance, have long been within the jurisdictions of the Agriculture Committees. Although most forestry programs are permanently authorized, forestry has usually been addressed in the periodic farm bills to reauthorize many agriculture programs. The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) contained a separate forestry title, with provisions establishing national priorities for forestry assistance; requiring statewide forest assessments and strategies; providing competitive funding for certain programs; creating new programs for open space conservation and for emergency reforestation; reauthorizing four existing programs; and prohibiting imports of illegally logged wood products, among other provisions. Forestry provisions were included in other titles as well—the conservation title revised the definition of conservation actions to include forestry activities for all conservation programs; the trade title required special reporting on softwood lumber imports; the energy title established two woody biomass energy programs; and the tax title included three provisions altering tax treatments for forests and landowners.

Additional forestry issues have been suggested by various interests for inclusion in the next farm bill. Protocols for measuring, monitoring, and verifying forest carbon sequestration projects, which might qualify as offsets under existing or proposed regulatory schemes (e.g., regional programs or a national cap-and-trade system) or in voluntary carbon markets, could be included in the farm bill. Other ecosystem services—forest values that have not traditionally been sold in markets, such as clean air and water, wildlife habitats, and scenic beauty—were addressed in the 2008 farm bill, and Congress could extend, expand, alter, or terminate the existing ecosystem services program. Protecting communities from wildfire continues to be a priority for some, while controlling invasive species that threaten native forests is a priority for others. Congress could address programs for these purposes in the next farm bill. Also, use of woody biomass for renewable energy could be combined with wildfire protection and invasive species control, and the next farm bill could extend, expand, alter, or add to the woody biomass energy programs created in the 2008 farm bill and in other legislation. Funding to assist landowners to implement sustainable forestry practice is another issue; while forestry was included for all agriculture conservation programs in the 2008 farm bill, the previous sole forest-specific assistance program was not reauthorized. Finally, assisting forest-dependent communities in diversifying their economies has also been debated.

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Topics: Forests, Agriculture, Legislative

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