Farm Bill Movement in House and Senate

Posted By: Sydni Dobson (deleted) SLMA News,
The House is expected to bring its version of the farm bill to the floor this week.  The current version of the bill includes language that clarifies that the federal government will not give procurement preference to wood products that are Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, and will instead use the USDA's BioPreferred/BioBased program standards, which SLMA lobbied to accept solid sawn lumber in the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, the current text of the bill includes the research section of the Timber Innovation Act (TIA). SLMA continues to work with our friends on Capitol Hill and in the forestry sector to include the remaining parts of the TIA - the Wood Innovation Grants program and Tall Wood Building Competition- and maintain the procurement preference language in the final bill. In addition to SLMA's priorities, the bill includes many of the recommendations supported by the Forestry in the Farm Bill Coalition, which consists of a wide range of conservation, forestry and forest products organizations, such as SLMA.  Several amendments to the bill will be considered, some of which pertain to further federal forest management reforms, landowner conservation programs, and changes to how commodity check-off programs function, with a very close partisan vote expected for final passage.
The Senate Agriculture Committee has not yet released its version of the farm bill, but we understand that the forestry title is currently being drafted, and we may see a bill in the coming weeks. SLMA and our forest products industry partners have been in close contact with Committee staff and our allies in the Senate over the last several days to encourage inclusion of the entire TIA in the base text of the Senate farm bill.  The concrete industry sees the potential for tall wood buildings made from mass timber as threat, and have stepped up their efforts to stop the Act from being included in the farm bill.  Thank you to those SLMA members that were asked to contact specific Senate offices in recent days to shore up support for the TIA at this critical time in the farm bill process.