Washington, DC (PRWEB) May 16, 2013
The House and Senate Agriculture Committees approved their versions of a Farm Bill this week that include new policies and programs that will help conserve and sustain America’s family-owned forests and the clean air and water, wildlife habitat, rural jobs, and recreational benefits that every American enjoys from these lands.
As the largest forest ownership group in the United States, family-owned woodlands are essential assets to every American.
The full Senate is expected to begin debating the Farm Bill on Monday and the House could vote in June.
“The American Forest Foundation applauds both Agriculture Committees for their progress to move a strong Farm Bill forward, and we hope to see swift action by both chambers to get the 2013 Farm Bill enacted.
“The Farm Bill provides tools and resources for forest landowners to implement conservation practices on the ground to improve the health and productivity of their forestland. These lands are facing growing pressures from catastrophic wildfires, forest pests and pathogens, and urban sprawl. If families aren’t able to address these pressures, than the clean air and water, wood products, wildlife habitats and hunting and fishing opportunities that every American relies on will be at risk. And this will end up costing Americans much more than the Farm Bill investments in these programs.
“Both the House and Senate bills have strong provisions for forests that will help family forest owners and keep good-paying jobs in rural communities.
“We appreciate the work that both Committees have done to address the budget deficit while maintaining resources for forest and conservation programs. However, we remain concerned that the proposed cuts to conservation programs will jeopardize the future of family-owned forests and the important benefits that come from these forests.
“AFF will continue to work with both Committees to build on the improvements made to the USDA Biobased Markets Program, to ensure that forest products are recognized for their biobased qualities. Without a change to this program to level the playing field for forest products, America’s 22 million family forest owners, who supply most of America’s forest products, will be cut out of markets for their products and have an even harder time paying the bills and keeping their forests as forests.
“Action on a strong Farm Bill is an investment to protect public benefits that come from private forests. We appreciate the bipartisan work by both chambers that recognizes the vital role of family forest owners in protecting America’s forest resources and keeping rural economies strong.”
Learn more about forests in the farm bill and the House and Senate bills at http://www.forestfoundation.org/farm-bill.