The Forest Products Fairness Act, a bill intended to boost the inclusion of wood products in the decade- old BioPreferred Program, was introduced in Congress earlier this month. Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Glenn Thompson (R-PA) along with Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) introduced identical bills in each of their respective houses. Legislators and supporters hope the bill will generate new market opportunities for forestry producers across the nation.
The United States Department of Agriculture oversees the BioPreferred Program (also known as the Biobased Markets Program) as set forth by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. Commonly known as the Farm Bill, the legislation was intended to encourage the use of biobased products by aiding consumers in their identification, in part through a voluntary product label.
The Farm Bill defines a biobased product as one “determined by the Secretary of Agriculture to be a commercial or industrial product composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products, including renewable domestic agricultural materials, forestry materials or intermediate materials or feedstock.” The original Farm Bill and definitions are available for review through the USDA’s BioPreferred Program website.
Language within the present law, which allows for products containing as little as 25 percent of biobased content to qualify under the BioPreferred Program implementation guidelines, excludes a number of traditional wood and forest products with up to 100 percent biobased content. The Forest Products Fairness Act aims to correct this oversight by modifying the definition of a biobased product and adding a section to describe forest products. In the new law, these items are described as follows:
Biobased Products: “The term 'biobased product', with respect to forestry materials, includes forest products that meet biobased content requirements, notwithstanding the market share the product holds, the age of the product, or whether the market for the product is new or emerging.” This definition would effectively include all forest products irrespective of market maturity.
Forest Products: “The term 'forest product' means a product made from materials derived from the practice of forestry or the management of growing timber. The term 'forest product' includes—
(i) pulp, paper, paperboard, pellets, lumber and other wood products; and
(ii) any recycled products derived from forest materials.”
Proponents of the bill note markets for forest products are lower than ever before, and the industry has lost more than 320,000 jobs since 2005. It is hoped the passage of the bill will support stronger markets for forest products and ultimately provide forestland owners with additional opportunities to realize revenue from their timberlands.
In addition to bi-partisan support, a group over 90 organizations, including the American Forest Foundation, have come together to endorse the bill. To express your support of the bill, contact your Congressional representatives. Contact information for Senators and Representatives across the nation is available through USA.gov.
We have lost so many loggers now in our area that you can hardly get timber cut. There are numerous tracts of pine plantations that need to be thinned but no one to thin them. The loggers that are left are trying to make ends meet by logging only the very best of the sites.