U.S. Representatives Glenn "GT' Thompson (R-PA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) today introduced the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012, bipartisan legislation that would open new opportunities for American forestry producers by allowing their products to qualify for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Biobased Markets Program, also known as BioPreferred.
USDA's Biobased Markets Program was originally designed "to increase the purchase and use of biobased products." The program requires USDA to set federal procurement standards and a voluntary label for biobased products, which allows producers to market their products as "USDA certified biobased." As currently implemented by USDA, most forest products are excluded from both the federal procurement preference and the "USDA certified" label. As a result, foreign-produced, imported materials are given preference in the program, rather than U.S.-made forest products.
The Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 would modify the definition of "biobased product" -- as defined in the Federal Farm Bill -- to include U.S. forest products in the Biobased Markets Program.
"Forest production and timber harvesting has served as a critically important economic engine to so many communities in the 5th District of Pennsylvania and nationally," said U.S. Rep. Thompson. "The Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 will offer producers stronger, expanded product markets so that the industry can better compete in the global marketplace. This modification is a win-win for consumers and producers, along with the promotion of healthy, well managed forests, and the protection of communities that rely on these jobs and industries to survive."
"The timber and wood products industries in Oregon and across the nation are struggling to keep afloat as our nation's economy slowly recovers," said Rep. Schrader. "Continuing to place a sustainable, American made product at a disadvantage is unacceptable at a time when we need to be investing and creating jobs here at home, not overseas. The Forest Products Fairness Act will ensure these vital U.S. industries have a chance to grow and compete globally."
Representative Thompson is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and currently serves as Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry. Representative Schrader is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and currently serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Finance and Tax.
U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) introduced similar, but not companion, legislation (S.2346) on April 26, 2012.