Farm Bill Rewrite Efforts Begin

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The Farm Bill, the 5-year, comprehensive legislation that governs everything from forestry to row crop and dairy price supports to nutrition programs to trade, expires in 2018.

Although 2017 has just begun, the process of crafting new authorizing legislation is well underway. Several hearings have already been held in the House Agriculture Committee, including one focused on forestry components. On the Senate side, we expect hearings to be scheduled sometime beginning in the second quarter. The upper chamber is on a bit of a slower track as other issues, such as the nomination process for a new Secretary of Agriculture, in further up in the queue. However, in talking to Chairman Pat Roberts’ staff on the committee, it was signaled that the Chairman wants to have a bill crafted sooner rather than later so we expect focus to turn to Farm Bill shortly.

For the hardwood industry, there are a few areas of focus that are critical to our sector and upon which we target our lobbying activity. First and foremost is trade. Both the Market Access (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) programs are authorized and funded by the Farm Bill. These two programs have a successful, proven track record of helping us open up markets for U.S. made hardwood forest products overseas, particularly in the Pacific Rim. The American Hardwood Export Council derives its funding from these two programs.

While MAP and FMD enjoy broad support, they are not without their detractors. The Heritage Foundation is a regular critic, arguing that these two programs smack of corporate welfare and crony capitalism. Every year legislation is introduced in Congress to eliminate or defund MAP and FMD. The Hardwood Federation and other groups have successfully beaten back attempts to kill these programs, arguing that they represent an excellent return on investment and help U.S. producers keep up with considerable resources competing nations spend promoting their own exports.

Our lobbying efforts in support of MAP and FMD are two-pronged. Not only are we advocating reauthorization, but also mandatory funding. This latter aspect is critical as mandatory funding provides the highest level of certainty that programs will be sustained throughout the life of the 5 year Farm Bill. If a program is only authorized without having mandatory funds, it forces supporters into the unenviable position of having to work the Congressional appropriations process to seek funding. Given the unpredictability and dysfunction of the appropriations process over the last few Congressional sessions, this is an outcome we are trying to avoid.

On the forestry side, the Farm Bill offers woodland owners a number of incentives to keep their forests as forests. Programs include those that offer landowners payments on an annual basis to encourage conservation activities on the land or one-time payments for specific projects or for a long-term easement. Programs in the Farm Bill Forestry Title include the Environmental Quality Incentives Program known as EQIP and the Conservation Stewardship Program. For our sector though, a priority issue that will likely be addressed in the next Farm Bill is the growing crisis that on our federally owned forestlands. Some form of the federal forest reform legislation that was almost enacted by Congress the last two years will likely find its way into the Farm Bill, assuming that Congress does not act before next year. Federal timber sales need to be executed more efficiently so that project work can keep up with the forest management needs of our increasingly overgrown federal forest tracts. This needs to be coupled with a fire borrowing fix that will end the current practice at the Forest Service where leadership drains funds from every other budget line item to supplement its wildfire suppression budget.

One other area that will be our focus is in the Energy Title. Several initiatives are authorized in the Farm Bill that promote biomass energy and deployment of heating and power systems that rely on wood-based biomass fuel. An emerging issue for our industry is declining markets for our wood residuals at wood products manufacturing facilities. Warm winters and relatively low fossil fuel prices have reduced demand for biomass heating fuels which represent a sizable share of the market for our mill residuals. That is why we are taking a good look at some of these biomass programs in the Farm Bill and discussing ways they may be altered to better address our needs going forward. One of these programs is the Community Wood Energy Program or CWEP. The policy goal of this program is to encourage schools, hospitals, community centers and other institutions primarily in rural areas to convert to heating with highly efficient biomass thermal systems that rely on either wood pellets or wood chips. Right now the program is in place holder mode, with an authorization but no mandatory funding. A proposal is on the table which would seed this program with considerable mandatory money with the objective of accelerating deployment of biomass systems around the country.

The Hardwood Federation is leveraging our lobbying capacity on our issue set by collaborating with the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition, a diverse group of landowners, industry and conservation groups that are advocating for a Farm Bill that will bring robust markets to rural America with the goal of keeping working forests working and the forest products value chain thriving. We serve on a subgroup of this coalition that is now discussing policies to promote markets. Your Hardwood Federation team welcomes your input and of course will keep you regularly apprised of our progress on this critical area of our advocacy efforts.

81 thoughts on “Farm Bill Rewrite Efforts Begin”

  1. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you can be
    a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog and
    definitely will come back very soon. I want to encourage yourself to continue your great job, have
    a nice afternoon!

  2. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I actually enjoyed reading
    it, you happen to be a great author. I will make certain to bookmark
    your blog and will often come back in the future.

    I want to encourage that you continue your great posts, have a nice evening!

  3. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  4. Hi superb blog! Does running a blog similar to this take a massive
    amount work? I’ve very little expertise in programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog in the near future.

    Anyway, should you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners
    please share. I understand this is off topic nevertheless I just
    had to ask. Appreciate it!

  5. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

    The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Safari.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something
    to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you
    know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the
    issue solved soon. Kudos

  6. You’re so awesome! I do not think I’ve read through a single
    thing like this before. So wonderful to discover somebody with original thoughts on this issue.

    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone
    with some originality!

  7. My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on a number of websites for about a year and
    am worried about switching to another platform.
    I have heard very good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into
    it? Any help would be really appreciated!

  8. Hey there this is kinda of off topic but I was wanting to
    know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  9. Hello! Quick question that’s completely off topic.
    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly?
    My weblog looks weird when browsing from my iphone4.
    I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem.
    If you have any recommendations, please share.

    Thanks!

  10. My brother recommended I might like this blog.

    He was totally right. This post actually made my day.

    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this
    info! Thanks! natalielise plenty of fish

  11. It’s nearly impossible to find educated people for this topic, but
    you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  12. Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this website.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between superb
    usability and visual appearance. I must say that you’ve done a fantastic job
    with this. Also, the blog loads super fast for me on Opera.
    Excellent Blog!

  13. That is really attention-grabbing, You’re an excessively professional blogger.
    I’ve joined your rss feed and stay up for searching for extra of your magnificent post.

    Additionally, I have shared your website in my social networks plenty of fish natalielise

  14. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you
    wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few
    pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great
    blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

  15. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up?

    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?

    I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *