Farm Bill Must Include Solutions for Family Forest Owners

Coalition Releases Comprehensive Recommendations for Farm Bill Reauthorization to Protect and Improve U.S. Forests and Rural Landowners’ Quality of Life

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Forests in the Farm Bill (FIFB), a coalition of more than 70 forestry and conservation organizations, released today a set of recommendations focused on improving the forest-related sections of the upcoming Farm Bill. The coalition urges legislators to strengthen the Farm Bill’s ability to protect the health and wellbeing of U.S. forests while supporting rural American communities.  

“Rural landowners hold enormous potential to improve the health and wellbeing of our country’s forests – and the FIFB coalition’s recommendations will help realize that potential,” said Rita Hite, president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation. “By accepting the Coalition’s recommendations, Congress will remove the financial and administrative barriers that often stop landowners from realizing their full conservation potential and open the doors of opportunity for rural communities, provide more funding for meaningful forest conservation, and a stronger stance in climate resilience.”  

Farm Bill programs provide resources and information to support federal, state, local, Tribal, and private forest owners. Improving these programs will better enable critical forest management practices that reduce risk and increase resilience to wildfire, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat, and support forest products and environmental markets to bolster rural economies. 

“Forests are our nation’s greatest renewable resource. They generate economic opportunity, mitigate key factors in climate change, provide critical ecosystems to support biodiversity and improve human health. Removing barriers inherent in the Farm Bill’s existing language, like the need to consider arbitrary ‘ownership’ boundaries when orchestrating crucial wildfire mitigation efforts, is a critical step in the right direction. When it comes to the major threats facing our forests – wildfire, pests, disease – boundaries don’t matter. These things easily spread across ‘ownerships’ to lay waste to even the healthiest of landscapes,” said Jay Farrell, Executive Director of the National Association of State Foresters. “The thoroughly researched, focused recommendations our coalition has delivered to Congress highlight key opportunities to fortify the Farm Bill so that it more closely resembles the resource our nation’s forests deserve.” 

The coalition’s recommendations emphasize the need for policymakers to address barriers that many underserved forest owners face when accessing Farm Bill programs. They also call on Congress to increase research and innovative funding, technical assistance, and support for active land stewardship through reauthorizing key conservation programs, along with increasing efforts that support meeting climate mitigation goals and combat the wildfire crisis.  

“The Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition has built a strong reputation for working collaboratively to make private and public forests healthy, reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and conserve quality wildlife habitat,” said Kurt Dyroff, Co-CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “For over 20 years, the coalition has brought together a diverse consortium of partners representing millions of forest owners, conservationists, hunters, anglers, forest product manufacturers, and natural resource professionals to build their Farm Bill platform, and this year’s platform boasts the endorsement of more than 70 organizations. The National Wild Turkey Federation is proud to help lead the coalition as a steering committee member and fully supports this Farm Bill’s platform that has been presented to Congress.” 

The FIFB Coalition has worked for over 20 years to collaboratively build consensus policy solutions for the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill, typically renewed by Congress every five years, is the nation’s largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation and is integral to forest restoration and conservation and to agricultural research. 

The coalition’s recommendations can be found here.

About the Forests in the Farm Bill Coalition 

The Forests in the Farm Bill (FIFB) Coalition represents millions of Americans who care deeply about the health and vitality of our forests. The FIFB is a diverse coalition of more than 100 organizations representing a range of interests across the forest sector, including forest owners, conservationists, hunters, anglers, the forest industry, and natural resource professionals. The FIFB Steering Committee comprises representatives from the American Forest Foundation, the National Association of State Foresters, and the National Wild Turkey Federation

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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