Why Forest Owners Can Be Excited about the Farm Bill

Posted: January 24, 2019 at 2:50 a.m.

By David Tenny, President and CEO, National Alliance of Forest Owners 

In December, Congress passed a bipartisan Farm Bill – and although most of the fanfare was around the higher profile wildfire and food assistance programs, there is one provision that forest owners, large and small, should cheer about: the Timber Innovation Act (TIA).

Even though we have been building with wood for hundreds of years, innovations are allowing us to build high-rises taller than 25 stories with engineered or high-tech wood, collectively called mass timber. Europe has been safely using mass timber for decades, but the use of mass timber is relatively new in North America. The Farm Bill’s Timber Innovation Act encourages research, development and support for building with this type of wood technology so more and more U.S. communities, architects and developers can derive the benefits of building with an abundant, renewable and domestic building material.

For private forest owners, emerging markets like mass timber are critical to sustain the economic health of our forests. We know that increased demand for trees insulates forest owners from the economic pressure to convert their land to other non-forest uses.

The TIA provisions in the Farm Bill help bridge the gap between the forest and the job site. TIA will provide designers and code officials with the research and technical assistance they need, and it encourages investment in the manufacturing facilities we need to produce mass timber products domestically.

TIA also fosters the construction of buildings with wood – a domestic, renewable resource that sequesters carbon. For architects, developers and cities, mass timber offers an environmentally superior alternative to traditional building materials.

Building with wood is good for the environment and the economy. It’s good for our forests and our cities. Good federal policy, like the Timber Innovation Act in the Farm Bill, supports healthy markets for wood that ensure that our forests can continue to provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and jobs.

To learn more about the Timber Innovation Act provisions included in the farm bill, visit: https://nafoalliance.org/issues/farm-bill/