Senate Agriculture Committee to Mark-up Farm Bill
On Friday, the Senate Agriculture Committee announced a mark-up of its 2018 farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The bill includes both the Research and Wood Innovation Grants Program sections of the Timber Innovation Act. While the bill does not include the Tall Wood Building Prize Competition, we will continue to work with Hill staff to include report language to encourage the USDA to continue the competition. Inclusion of the Wood Innovation Grants program, which provides funding to universities and other organizations to create innovative wood products, such as the mass timber apartments at the University of Arkansas, are important for architects, engineers, local code officials and others to see first-hand how the new technology works. The grants also help retrofit facilities in high unemployment areas to produce mass timber products. In addition to the Timber Innovation Act, the legislation includes language to prevent government agencies from giving procurement preference to products beyond the USDA's BioBased/BioPreferred standards. 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. The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark-up the bill tomorrow, June 13, starting at 9:30 AM Eastern.
The House version of the farm bill includes the Research section of the Timber Innovation Act, and language that prevents government agencies from giving procurement preference to forest products in addition to the USDA BioBased/BioPreferred standards. The House bill, which failed on the House floor last month, has stalled due to ongoing immigration reform negotiations.