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10/24/2017 » 10/25/2017
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2017 Policy Priorities
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2017 Policy Empowerment Initiative Details

The forestry sector in the United States has experienced extreme volatility, unprecedented challenges, and substantial change during the past two decades. We are at a tipping point regarding policy related to tax reform, increasing wood markets and regulations that unnecessarily increases costs and hamper your ability to own and manage forests. To leverage the current political atmosphere in support of private forest landowners and the use of wood in U.S. markets, FLA has increased its commitment to public and government affairs work in the following areas.

  • Tax Reform

  • Regulatory Reform 

  •  Free and Open Markets 

Tax Reform

FLA Principle
FLA believes federal tax policies based on equality and certainty are required to encourage the nation’s private forest landowners to make sustained, long-term capital investments in forest management.

 

Discussion 
Rather than distorting market forces, taxation should place private forest landowners on near-equal playing fields with other capital ventures, including agriculture, as this will encourage practices that retain forests as working, contributing assets to the nation. Tax policies must recognize the unique and long-term characteristics associated with timber and forest management investments, including the intergenerational transfer of forest assets, to alleviate uncertainty in tax treatment. Comprehensive tax policy will ensure the sustained environmental and social benefits within a predictable economic framework.
   

Our Position
FLA believes that timber should be treated as a capitol asset and not as inventory. The existing tax code as it relates to private forests recognizes the long-term nature of timber investment and should not be amended.

Protecting and Enhancing Timber Tax Provisions

 

The timber tax provisions in the Internal Revenue Code are vital to the continuing viability of owning and managing productive U.S. timberland.  FLA is working not only to ensure they are maintained in tax reform efforts, but that they are not put on the chopping block and seen as a “special interest” tax break.

 

As work on tax reform is taking shape both in the U.S. Congress and the Treasury Department, FLA is advocating to ensure tax reform embraces timber tax provisions that have long recognized the following overarching principles:

 

1. Capital gains treatment for the harvest of timber or sales of standing trees. (Sections 1231(b)(2) and 631(a)&(b));

 

2. Deduction for the operating costs of forest management, including prevention measures (fire, pest and disease), thinning, post-establishment fertilization, interest, taxes, protection of wetlands, and forestry activities. (Sections 162 and 263A(c)(5));

 

3. Deduction up to or above $10,000 for the reforestation costs per stand, with the remainder amortized over 84 months. (Section 194).

Full Repeal of the Estate Tax

 

When President Trump unveiled his administration's tax reform plan, he made it clear that they fully intend to repeal the federal estate tax – a change FLA has been advocating for more than a decade.  For years, the Forest Landowners Association has worked to help policymakers and White House administrations understand the challenges the federal estate tax creates for families that own forest assets. We continue to support this position and work with coalitions in support of full repeal of the Estate Tax.

Free & Open Markets

FLA Principle:
FLA believes that the maintenance of free and open markets is vital to the preservation of private forests. 

 

Discussion:
FLA supports fair trade initiatives with Canada and their full compliance with the Softwood Lumber Agreement. FLA supports full inclusion of all woody biomass in renewable energy and opposes regulations such as mandatory certification that seek to create a federal forest practices act or exclude certain landowners from fully participating in markets for forest products. FLA Position Statement on Sustainable Forests: FLA believes that private forests are sustained by the individuals and families that own and manage those forests and they are sustained by open and free access to healthy markets. Therefore, any restriction to market access or increased cost of management threatens the sustainability of private forests by reducing the ability of the landowner to continue forest management as a financially viable option for their land.   

Sustainability should be measured by the success of the owner and the heath of the marketplace and not by the volume of trees and the acres they cover.

Strengthening Timber Markets | U.S. Wood is Good. Buy American.

 

The new Administration and congressional lawmakers have expressed a desire to pass and fund a massive infrastructure program. “Buy America” is the new motto for policymakers. FLA is working to position U.S.-produced timber products are favored for taxpayer-funded project.

 

Increased infrastructure spending in areas such as roads, bridges, airports, pipelines, water transportation, schools, and rail ultimately will result in increased consumption of wood products, which in turn will ripple through the wood products value chain. This means wood and paper mills (primary and secondary manufacturing) along with logging and landowners (resource development and extraction) will benefit as well. The infrastructure plan will also boost consumer incomes through the additional jobs created, stimulating wood product demand for consumer products such as housing and furniture.

 

FLA is positioning private forest landowners and the entire supply value chain to be able demonstrate the economic impact sourcing wood from American producers creates.  To do so, we have commissioned a national and state-level economic impact study that details how a large infrastructure bill would generate economic benefits to the wood products value chain, its employees, and the broader economy.

Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA)

FLA is focusing on the negotiations of a new Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) to ensure that subsidized Canadian imports do not undercut American producers. We commend the actions of President Trump and his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for advocating on behalf of the interest of the U.S. forest products supply chain including private forest landowners by forcing the Canadian government to the negotiation table to settle the Softwood Lumber Agreement.

 

FLA’s position and work with the Administration is in line with the following:

  • Believes the Canadian federal and provincial governments have engaged in subsidizing softwood lumber production, and introducing those subsidized products into the U.S. market.
  • Believes these practices not only undermine the principles of free trade and cooperation between the two nations, but also seriously threaten the viability of the U.S. lumber industry and the holdings and investments of private forest landowners.
  • Supports efforts to end the practices of subsidy and dumping by the Canadian federal and provincial governments regarding softwood lumber.
  • Supports all remedial measures to protect the U.S. private forest landowner and the U.S. lumber industry from competing with subsidized products including, but not limited to, the imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties by the U.S. government.

Regulatory Reform

 

FLA Principle:

 FLA believes that human society cannot reap the numerous benefits of forests without secure private property rights.

 

Discussion:

FLA is an ardent supporter of private property rights.  FLA believes that local, state, federal and non-governmental organizations are increasingly imposing restrictions and regulations that threaten the sustainability of Private Forests.   Any efforts to restrict or encumber private forest lands without fair compensation will be opposed by the FLA.  We believe landowners should be compensated for land use restrictions, partial takings as well as full takings as provided for in the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.  FLA believes excessive and misplaced regulation can jeopardize the sustainability of Private Forests.  FLA supports existing programs such as voluntary Best Management Practices and opposes all regulations whose benefit is not supported by sound science.  FLA advocates for an open, transparent and fair process on all proposed regulation.  Primary stakeholders should be included in the regulatory process and a cost benefit analysis should be included on all proposed regulations. 

 

Area of Concern:

 Private Property Rights and Excessive Regulation

 

FLA Position Statement on ESA:
FLA believes the conservation of species and ecosystems is important to society. However, the current ESA listing process has dramatized the enormous power of the ESA to affect landowners, workers, industry, and regional economies in ways never intended by the statute's authors.  The Act should be amended to recognize the following:

 

  • Endangered species live predominantly on private lands. Congress must take steps to incentivize landowner species stewardship. The ESA must place greater emphasis on recovery actions, rather than over bureaucratic listing actions.
  • The government should analyze alternative strategies when preparing recovery plans. Peer review of scientific data by independent third parties, particularly of controversial decisions, will improve the decision-making process and minimize controversy.
  • Analyze the impacts of recovery strategies and consider which strategies may lessen the more serious impacts of species recovery on society, the economy, and the environment.
  • Law should require that agencies talk to the landowners involved and to include them in discussions that concern their property.
  • Private landowners who cede control of their lands to society in the name of preserving threatened and/or endangered species should receive just compensation for property lost. A "Market Value"

 

FLA is working with forest landowners in identifying regulations that unnecessarily increases costs and hamper your ability to own and manage forests. Encouraging meaningful regulatory reform legislation, FLA is also working with lawmakers and federal agencies on much-needed improvements to the rulemaking process by advocating regulatory reform measures that include: greater transparency, the use of sound science, greater sensitivity to costs and benefits, and accountability for agencies’ use of economic and scientific data.

Support our Efforts 

 

Our collective success in this ambitious effort is dependent upon your support and engagement. Please consider donating to our Policy Empowerment Initiative today as we seek to continue to promote the rights of private forest owners. 

 

 

 

 

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