FRA POLICY PRIORITIES 117TH CONGRESS

Primary Role: FRA will take an active role in advancing these issue areas. FRA will collaborate with our allies to implement, support, or oppose legislation, policy, or rulemaking that impact FRA members.

Transportation
Transportation is a key vector in the movement of raw forest products from the woods to the mill. Every year more than 13 million truck loads transport logs, pulpwood, biomass, and chips from the point of harvest to a mill or storage area. FRA will actively work to improve the safety and efficiency of transporting raw forest products and improve the availability of drivers.

Actions include:
• Work to re-introduce the Safe Routes Act in the 117th Congress.
• Continue efforts to include the Safe Routes Act provisions in the reauthorization ofthe surface transportation bill.
• Support and advance the DRIVE Safe Act.
• Monitor and comment on rulemaking that may impact the wood supply chain.
• Support research that advances Safe Routes Act provisions.

Guest Worker Visas
Non-immigrant labor is critical to accomplishing forestry work on private and public lands. H-2B workers are responsible for planting nearly 2.2 million acres of forestland every year. It’s critical that access to non-immigrant labor is made available to perform forestry work. FRA will actively work to improve access to non-immigrant labor that perform forestry work.

Actions include:
• Secure issuance of supplemental H-2B guest worker visas in the final spending bills for FY2021.
• Advocate in the 117th Congress for enactment of legislative language that would provide the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security authorization to release supplemental H-2B visas.
• Advocate in the 117th Congress or through rulemaking to allow forestry employers to choose between participation in either the H-2B or H-2A non-immigrant temporary worker programs.
• Review and comment on regulations that may impact availability and cost of H-2B visas.
• Work with our agriculture allies to determine the plausibility of enactment of a new H-2C guestworker category that would entirely resolve issues with the current suite of guestworker programs for the forestry sector.

Carbon Neutrality of Biomass
Carbon neutrality of forest-based biomass is grounded in the fact that carbon emissions from forest-based biomass combustion are fully offset by working forest lands that capture and store carbon. Currently, there is regulatory uncertainty around the carbon neutrality of forest-based biomass. FRA will work with allies on this issue to ensure that forest based biomass is recognized as carbon neutral.

Actions Include:
• Include language in FY2021 final spending bill that directs federal agencies to recognize carbon-neutrality of forest-based biomass.
• Monitor and comment on EPA rulemaking that provides permanence to the recognition of forest-based biomass.
• Support BIOMASS 101 that contradicts false claims regarding the carbon-neutrality of forest-based biomass.


Secondary Role: FRA will monitor and collaborate with others on the following issues that impact our members.

Independent Contractor Status
Independent contractors are essential to the wood supply chain. Independent contractors provide for a diverse logging trucking workforce who make their own business decisions that operate under contracts or agreements to provide fiber to mills. FRA will continue to support efforts that defend independent contractor status and policies that improve access to credit for these businesses.

Use of Wood Products in Tall Buildings
Improved technologies in the development of cross-laminated timbers have the potential to provide expanded markets for the solid wood product sector. FRA will provide support and monitor policies and regulations that provide a pathway for market growth in this area.

Climate Change Legislation
During the 117th Congress legislation will be introduced to reverse climate change. These policies may impact the forest products industry. FRA will monitor climate change legislation and outline potential impacts to the wood supply chain. The FRA Public Policy and Advocacy Committee developed Climate Change Resolution that was supported by FRA leadership.

Endangered Species Act
The ESA provides protections for those species that are threatened or endangered. The listing of a species has the potential to significantly impact forest operations. FRA will continue to monitor and provide comment on proposed species listings and work with our allies to make sure the most recent research is used in the determination of a species ESA status.

Trade Policy
U.S. trade policy has the potential to benefit and harm the forest products sector. FRA will work with our allies and monitor and report on trade policies that may impact the forest products industry. FRA will also provide review and comment on trade policy to assist Congressional leaders in making informed decisions on how policies may benefit or harm FRA members.

Federal Lands
The U.S. Forest Service is an important fiber supply source for the forest products industry in most regions of the United States. FRA will work with allied associations to assure that the Forest Service receives adequate funding to maintain and grow timber management on federal lands. FRA will support or oppose legislation that may impact our members.

COVID-19 Legislation
COVID-19 Pandemic Stimulus Funding: The impact of the pandemic is uncertain currently. Many sectors of the forest products industry have experienced significant economic harm. FRA will continue to work with allied associations to include opportunities for these sectors to access low interest loans, grants, and other stimulus dollars that may become available to assist the forest products industry to a healthy economic recovery. These actions include incentives to stimulate home building and maintain the viability of the logging and transportation infrastructure. FRA will additionally work in support of legislation that limits a business’s exposure lawsuits that result from the COVID-19 pandemic.

FRA prepared a policy recommendation document to the Biden Harris Transition Team in December 2020. This document is available HERE.