Discussing Forestry Policy and the Next Farm Bill

September 20, 2011

In August, I sat down with the Hardwood Federation to discuss forestry policy and answer several questions pertaining to the upcoming Farm Bill, which were included in the "Hardwood Leaders Spotlight" for thier September 2011 Newsletter.

From the Hardwood Federation's September Newsletter: 

"Congressman Glen "G.T." Thompson was first elected to Congress in 2008 from Pennsylvania's most rural district. A former volunteer fireman, Boy Scout leader, and school board member, G.T. came to Congress with a strong background in health care, but also with a keen understanding of issues facing rural economies. As Chairman of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry, G.T. will play a key role in our industry's future. HF sat down with the Chairman for a quick Q&A. Enjoy.

Hardwood Federation: The hardwood community is made up of so many small family-owned businesses.  What can Washington do to help these businesses as our economy continues to recover?

Congressman Thompson: I think the best thing that we can do - and the House has passed bill after bill to do just this - is to get out of the way of businesses, which includes our timber harvesters and forest products industry.  Whether it's the overly burdensome actions of federal regulators, including the Environmental Protection Agency, or mandates under the 2010 health care reform law, we've encountered an unprecedented amount of new rules and regulations being forced on businesses and local communities over the past few years.  Or another example I'll give is the overall amount of timber we've harvested in the ANF (Allegheny National Forest) in recent years.  The USFS controls the harvest, yet we're cutting less than half of what the 1985 forest plan calls for!

Private forestry works - and we need to encourage timber harvesting and overall forest management; As chairman of the Conservation, Energy & Forestry Agriculture Subcommittee, I'm looking forward to continuing this work as we begin drafting the upcoming farm bill...."

"Hardwood Federation: You held hearings into the new Forest Planning Rules.  What did you learn in particular about industry access to federal land?  What do you feel are challenges that remain and opportunities for both sides?

Congressman Thompson: We had a good discussion with the Forest Service when they testified before the Subcommittee in May. The basic problem I have with the proposed planning rule is the lack of emphasis on forest management and recognition that harvesting is an important part of this management.  I think of forests similar to gardens: if you don't weed your garden, it will not remain healthy. The House Agriculture Committee will continue thorough oversight on this issue to ensure the multiple-use management mission of our national forests is met and upheld..."