Farm Bill Returns to Congress
The Farm Bill refers to the legislation passed by Congress setting national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policies.
2023 is shaping up to be a busy year in Congress for legislation that will impact the forestry and agriculture worlds, with the likelihood of long and robust arguments in closely divided Senate and House of Representatives chambers faced with big competing budget priorities.
The farm bill is intended to govern many agricultural, nutrition and forestry issues for a five year period. The process of drafting, negotiating and passing this legislation is typically a long process. The 2018 version became law on December 18, 2018.
(Many federal forestry programs flow through the Farm Bill, and are then administered by the Department of Agriculture through the U.S. Forest Service.)
The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee launched its consideration of the issues that are likely to be addressed in the farm bill with hearings in Michigan (and Arkansas) that began last year.
A separate bill that would require the U.S. Forest Service to expedite the treatment of 70 million acres of forest service land to control insect and disease infestation, and reduce severe fire risks was reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. John Thune (R-SD).
“The lack of active forest management is changing the role of forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources on National Forest lands in many western states,” said Tim O’Hara, vice president of government affairs for the Forest Resources Association. “Tree mortality rates across the country are greater on Forest Service lands than those forests managed by non-federal public and private land managers. (The) Expediting Forest Restoration and Recovery Act, would expedite forest management that would improve carbon sequestration and storage on National Forests lands across the U.S while supporting rural forest-based economies.”
Another piece of new legislation with support from Maine’s congressional legislation was launched in the Senate to loosen labor laws to allow training jobs for 16 and 17 year olds to prepare for future jobs in family logging firms. A shortage of loggers and truck drivers was cited among the reasons that the bill is needed.
“Tree mortality rates across the country are greater on Forest Service lands than those forests managed by non-federal public and private land managers."