Building Public Policy Engagement

FRA provides an effective member voice in Washington, D.C., defending against threatening legislation and regulation, while advancing public policies that support industry sustainability.

FRA’s Strategic Plan identifies several key priorities for its advocacy on behalf of the industries we serve. Our multi-faceted efforts in 2021 targeted those legislative and regulatory priorities.  

Guest Worker Visas

Demand for H-2B guest worker visas continued to escalate to record levels, with requests for forestry workers increasing by 30 percent from 2020 to 2021 (Blinn, 2021). H-2B forestry workers are critical to successfully regenerating forests and improving forest health. Every year H-2B forestry workers plant 85 percent of the tree seedlings on public and private lands, and they perform numerous other vital tasks such as timber stand improvement work, pine straw collection, and fire prevention/fire maintenance work. It is essential that the H-2B visa cap of 66,000 be increased through legislative action, to ensure that employers of H-2B forestry workers can hire the labor required to meet the demands of tree planting and fire prevention work.

Workforce man walking through field

To address the H-2B worker issue in 2021, FRA:

FRA-Supported Infrastructure Bill Provisions

The infrastructure bill included several provisions that FRA had supported throughout the year. In addition to language promoting women in the trucking workforce, the creation of a new federal system for subsidizing sawmills and other wood processing facilities—with $400 million in new financial assistance, and reforestation of Forest Service lands, two provisions target transportation issues.

The Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program allows 18-20-year-old commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders to drive trucks across state lines after completing rigorous operational and safety training.

A favorable provision grandfathers existing gross vehicle weight limits on North Carolina roads that are being converted to interstate highways.

Research

In cooperation with the National Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety (THATS) Foundation and Great Lakes Timber Producers Association, FRA funded research to assess the efficiency and safety of allowing log trucks to utilize the interstate at legal state weights. A review of accident data showed that log trucks are safer in terms of heavy-truck fatality rates per load. This research will be used to advance the provisions of the Safe Routes Act in Congress.

Forest Derived Biomass

Forest-Based Biomass

FRA continues to promote forest-based biomass as an energy source. In 2021 FRA:

Financial Assistance for Logging and Hauling Businesses

Continuing the work already in progress to get discretionary language for timber harvesters and haulers included in the FY2021 spending bill, FRA collaborated with the USDA Forest Service, Farm Services Agency, and strategic allies to develop and implement the Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH). The PATHH program approved $200 million in aid to logging and hauling businesses that were financially impacted due to loss of markets caused by the pandemic. FRA received the Forest Service Chief’s Award in recognition for its efforts developing and promoting the PATHH program and securing crucial funding for the industry.

Washington DC Capitol Building

Regulations and Rulemaking

FRA provided comments on several rulemaking fronts over the past year.

Virtual Advocacy Day

In September, FRA held its first-ever Virtual Advocacy Day to brief members of Congress on our policy initiatives and seek support. By all measures, the inaugural Virtual Advocacy Day was a success. FRA members participated in 90 meetings, of which 30 were scheduled with members of Congress. The key issues FRA addressed included transportation, biomass carbon-neutrality, and H-2B non-immigrant labor. The success of the event was evidenced by the immediate increase in cosponsors of the legislation we had promoted during the event.

Wood Supply Chain Video

As a result of feedback from our members about the need to effectively tell the wood supply chain story, FRA produced a video that demonstrates the importance of a healthy wood supply chain. The video and the FRA-developed forest supply chain schematic (created in 2020) are invaluable to our objective of educating influential policy makers about the synergy of the wood supply chain from loggers to final products. We encourage our members to utilize these important tools to explain the links that connect each segment of the forest products industry.

FRA Supports Your Ongoing Commitment to Environmental Performance and Socially Responsible Governance.
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