Cassidy, Warnock Introduce Bill Supporting Forest Landowners Following Natural Disasters
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced legislation to help America’s landowners recover from the loss of timber after natural disasters. The Disaster Reforestation Act amends and makes improvements to the tax code to allow forest owners to deduct the value of their timber prior to the loss caused by a natural disaster.
“Louisianans are no stranger to natural disasters. This tax fix provides much needed relief and certainty to landowners when livelihoods are destroyed by storms,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“The forestry industry is central to Georgia’s economy and environment, supporting critical jobs in rural communities and across the state,” said Senator Warnock. “The bipartisan Disaster Reforestation Act will ensure our foresters have the tools they need to recover when natural disasters strike.”
“Natural disasters create havoc on forest resources but more importantly on the lives of people who manage them. Often when disasters hit it is financially overwhelming for a landowner to get back on their feet and begin the recovery process. The Disaster Reforestation Act offers a helping hand to the landowner to get their land back into production as quickly as possible. The Louisiana Forestry Association supports this effort on behalf of all forest landowners throughout Louisiana and the nation,” said C.A. “Buck” Vandersteen, Louisiana Forestry Association.
“Forest lands are essential for Louisiana’s economy and environment. Wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and land conservation are supported by managed forests. Natural Disasters like Hurricane Laura and Delta last year and Ida just this month, can quickly level timberland, leaving landowners with decades-worth of work lost in just a few moments. There is no insurance coverage in the vast majority of instances,” said Roy O. Martin III, CEO of Martin Sustainable Resources L.L.C. “Forest landowners in Louisiana are then left to recover with little to no assistance. If we want to ensure these forests are replanted and continue providing the jobs that managed forests support, we need to help forest landowners recover. The Disaster Reforestation Act introduced this week by Senator Cassidy is the support landowners need. This bill fixes a discrepancy in the tax code allowing timber growers to keep their working forests, working. We all need help recovering after these catastrophic events, and Senator Cassidy is doing his part to help landowner’s repair and replant forests. Otherwise, we may lose the thousands of jobs in Louisiana and the natural benefits that depend on managed forests.”
“Forest landowners are unique in that they do not qualify for USDA Crop insurance following natural disasters, and private insurance products are unavailable. For too long these landowners have been overlooked when it comes to simple ways to recover, like a small change in tax code, that allow them to claim their loss,” said Forest Landowners Association (FLA) CEO Scott Jones. “Forest landowners are not asking for a handout, just fair treatment when it comes to recovering after a natural disaster. The Disaster Reforestation Act fixes this inequality.”
The Disaster Reforestation Act is supported by: Alabama Forestry Association, American Forest Foundation, Arkansas Forestry Association, Association of Consulting Foresters, California Forestry Association, Florida Forestry Association, Forest Resources Association, Forestry Association of South Carolina, Georgia Forestry Association, Hardwood Federation, Iowa Coalition For Trees and Forests, Iowa Woodland Owners, Kentucky Forest Industries Association, Louisiana Forestry Association, Massachusetts Forest Alliance, Mississippi Forestry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Foresters, National Woodlands Association, North Carolina Forestry Association, Ohio Forestry Association, Oklahoma Forestry Association, Pennsylvania Forestry Association, Society of American Foresters, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Southern Group of State Foresters, Tennessee Forestry Association, Texas Forestry Association, The Carbon Fund, Trees Forever, Virginia Forestry Association, Washington Farm Forestry Association, Washington Forest Protection Association, and Wildlife Mississippi.
Louisiana timberland play a critical role in the state’s economy, communities, and environment. There are 15 million acres of private forest in Louisiana producing enough oxygen for 148 million residents to breathe every year and sequester the emissions of 2.5 million cars annually driven on Louisiana’s roads. According to the Forest Landowners Association, they provide an impact of $13 billion on the Louisiana economy. 48,000 Louisiana jobs are supported by forestry providing $1 billion in salaries and wages and $328 million in state taxes.
Previous disaster relief policies and programs provide much needed relief for agriculture crops and farmers, however, they do not provide any economic relief for farmers whose timber crops were destroyed. The Disaster Reforestation Act allows landowners to deduct the full value of timber destroyed during disaster events in the same way the tax code treats other crops.
In the case of the loss of uncut timber from fire, storm, other casualty, or theft, the basis used for determining the amount of the deduction may not be less than the excess of (1) the appraised value of the uncut timber determined immediately before the loss was sustained, over (2) the salvage value of the timber.
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