Fire. Development. Natural Disaster. Finances. Pests. Family Legacy. These are just a few of the fears and concerns Tree Farmers face on a daily basis. Recent hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods have left many Tree Farmers wondering where they might seek assistance to help them restore their devastated Tree Farms and recover from these disasters. Fortunately, USDA Farm Bill programs are providing some real assistance.
However, Congress is writing the next Farm Bill right now—and these programs are not just for farmers. In the Farm Bill, Congress will make important decisions that will impact you as Tree Farmers—decisions that could impact everything from markets for your wood products to availability of education and technical assistance tools for Tree Farmers.
For example, The Pionkes of Pennsylvania were attacked by the gypsy moth and lost 100 acres of their oak forests—leaving the land almost barren. Salvaging what timber was left only generated enough revenue to replant and protect 10 acres, so Harry Pionke consulted with his local NRCS office and signed up to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Through their participation in CSP, Harry and Joyce Pionke are reestablishing and diversifying their forest.
It’s clear that Farm Bill programs are one tool forest owners can use to ensure their forests stay healthy and intact for present and future generations, and Tree Farmers across the country have similar stories to the Pionkes.
There are more than 10 million family forest owners in the U.S., compared to 2 million farmers. The family forest owner voice should be equal, if not stronger, than traditional farmers. But it’s not! Speak up for Farm Bill cost-share programs that work for forest owners—just like farmers!
NOW is the time to remind our members of Congress that forest owners are farmers, too! They need to remember forest owners when writing the 2012 Farm Bill. If we want to ensure these programs will be available in the future, we must act now--don't let forest owners take disproportionate cuts. Send them a copy of our latest 2012 Farm Bill recommendations that protect what’s important for family forest owners.
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