State Foresters believe that the Farm Bill is a unique opportunity to support rural America’s economic backbone and improve the quality of life for all Americans by enhancing support for America’s trees and forests.
NASF is a founding member of the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition, a diverse group of conservation, landowner, wildlife, industry, and community organizations. First formed in preparation of the 2008 Farm Bill, the coalition is working to ensure forests have a seat at the table during the next Farm Bill reauthorization process. Through the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition and other targeted efforts, NASF is working to ensure the Farm Bill addresses key priorities for state and private forestry.
State Foresters recommend that the next Farm Bill address several key priorities:
- Provide support to State Foresters for updating state Forest Action Plans that collectively serve as a powerful strategic plan for the nation’s forests. This should include federal agency direction making these all-lands plans a foundation and priority for driving public lands decision-making and resource allocation.
- Provide federal and state forest managers with tools that increase the pace and on-the-ground results of active forest management, cross boundary work, and rapid and effective response to insects, disease and wildland fire. This includes but is not limited to expanded use of Good Neighbor Authority, the Insect and Disease Area Designations and categorical exclusions.
- Support the development of new and expanded markets for forest products to provide all landowners, public and private, with more forest management options.
- Strengthen forestry outreach, education, research and inventory programs that enhance the ability of State Foresters to assist private landowners and deliver federal and state programs serving all lands across the rural to urban spectrum. This is fundamental in supporting trees and forests as a vital part of America’s green infrastructure. State Foresters support an initiative to reforest America to begin to address the emerging threat of forest loss from commercial and residential development as well as from the impacts of wildfire, insects and disease.
- Include strong provisions for forests in conservation title programs that provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners, including reauthorization of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
- Provide for a comprehensive wildland fire funding fix. This is critically needed to address the increasing cost of wildfire suppression and the challenges this poses to the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior capabilities. To the extent that the Farm Bill process can help facilitate a Congressional solution to this issue, NASF would support those efforts.
Strong partnerships between state forestry agencies and federal agencies are critical to helping landowners manage their forests and to keeping the forests on the landscape that benefit all Americans. Contact the NASF policy director to learn more.