The Forest Products Fairness Act of 2013 is a simple fix—it treats forest products like the biobased products they truly are.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) March 05, 2013
United States Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), today introduced the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2013.
Sens. Pryor and Blunt and Reps. Thompson and Schrader authored the legislation so that American-made, home-grown forest products can qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred® program. The BioPreferred® program is designed to set a federal government purchasing preference and a voluntary label to promote markets for biobased products.
As currently implemented, most forest products, including products grown by America's more than 10 million family forest owners, have been excluded from the USDA BioPreferred program.
“The Forest Products Fairness Act (FPFA) of 2013 is a simple fix—it treats forest products like the biobased products they truly are. It’s hard enough for family forest owners to afford and maintain forestland; we don’t need to make it even harder by shutting out new markets for forest products that can help family forest owners reinvest in their woodlands. That’s why this simple fix could have big impact,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation (AFF).
AFF, along with a coalition of 90 organizations and companies, has endorsed the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2013. When an identical bill was introduced by these Congressional leaders in 2012, it garnered bipartisan support in the House and the Senate.
“By placing home-grown forest products at a disadvantage, the USDA BioPreferred program hurts the health of our nation’s forestland, family forest owners, and rural communities. The Forest Products Fairness Act allows home-grown companies to expand and compete on the same level playing field as international counterparts,” Senator Pryor said.
Over the next 50 years, forest losses are expected to range from 16-34 million acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service 2010 Resources Planning Act Assessment. Without strong markets for forest products, this trending loss of forestland will be hard to reverse —as the nation's more than 10 million woodland owners struggle to make ends meet so they can keep their woodlands intact.
“Forestry is an important economic driver in rural Missouri and nationwide,” Senator Blunt said. “I’m glad to support this bipartisan bill, which will help increase economic opportunities for job creators and help our forestry producers compete in a competitive global economy.”
“A strong forest industry is essential to the 5th District of Pennsylvania and our country as a whole, and is also critical to helping sustain healthy, well managed forests, and growing the local economies that rely on them,” Representative Thompson stated.
“The Forest Products Fairness Act is about promoting U.S. jobs and U.S.-made products and taking every step possible to support the entire economic chain of the forest industry. By expanding forest product market opportunities we will build a stronger industry, from the families who do the harvesting to the manufacturers who produce forest products, which will help sustain and grow the economic output associated with a vibrant timber sector,” Rep. Thompson stated.
Markets for forest products are at an all-time low—with more than 1,000 mills shuttered in the last 10 years and more than 320,000 jobs lost since 2005.
“In my time in Congress, I have been staunchly committed to strengthening our nation’s economic recovery and increasing investment in Oregon’s rural communities,” Rep. Schrader said. “This bill furthers that commitment by addressing the absurdity of wood products currently being excluded from the bio-based definition and updating the antiquated definition to accurately portray the significant role our timber communities play in our nation’s economic output,” Representative Kurt Schrader said.
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The American Forest Foundation (AFF) works on-the-ground with families, teachers and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners and teachers working to keep our forests healthy and our children well-prepared for the future they will inherit. Learn more about AFF’s work to support markets for wood products.