(PRWEB) February 04, 2014
Congress has passed a long-awaited Farm Bill [H.R. 2642] that includes strong policies and programs to help conserve America’s family-owned forests and the clean air and water, wildlife habitat, rural jobs, and recreational benefits that Americans enjoy from these lands.
“After years of hard work, we know this Farm Bill was well worth the wait. This legislation provides resources critical to implementing conservation practices on the ground and making good forest stewardship affordable,” said Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation.
The improvements in the new Farm Bill, critical to ensuring long-term forest sustainability, include:
•Stronger market opportunities for forests, specifically with improvements to the Biobased Markets Program and a strengthened commitment to expanding prospects for wood in green building markets, the fastest growing market for wood products;
•Improved access to conservation resources, particularly the Conservation Stewardship Program, which rewards landowners for taking the ‘next step’ in conservation;
•Strong support for programs that combat forest invasive pests and pathogens and;
•Provisions to increase forest owners’ regulatory certainty when protecting water quality.
Farm Bill resources are being used across the country to accomplish significant ecological and economic outcomes. In Wisconsin's unique “Driftless region,” for example, AFF worked with Farm Bill conservation program resources and federal, state, local and nongovernmental partners to leverage family forest owner resources to contribute to oak tree restoration. Oak habitat in Wisconsin is critical to the wildlife and economy of the Driftless region, and the new Farm Bill will enable similar opportunities to protect America's forests.
“We applaud the leadership of conference committee members for their hard work in producing a bill that supports the stewardship of America’s 22 million family forest owners. And we also applaud Congress for passing this critical piece of legislation that is good for conservation, for our rural communities, and for families all across the country.”