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Public Statements

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KING. Madam President, I appreciate the opportunity to talk with the Chairman today to get clarity about the products that will be included in the USDA Biobased Markets Program. The Senator's hard work and vision on the issue of innovation in natural resources industries has provided the essential leadership to support growth in this critical economic sector.

I greatly appreciate the work that she and Senator Cochran did to expand the program's application in this farm bill, including the explicit definition of forest products and the expanded definition of innovation as it applies to the program.

The Senator and I both represent States that have strong forest products industries in fact in Maine there are over 16,700 people who are employed by the forestry, logging, wood products, and pulp and paper industries. This industry also helps ensure that Maine's 233,000 family woodland owners have income to conserve and sustain their working forests. Both of our States' forest-based economies have been hit hard by the downturn in the housing market as well as increased pressure overseas so it is important that we do not further hinder them in any way.

I have learned recently of the USDA Biobased Markets Program and the fact that in some cases, this program favors foreign products and other biobased products over forest products, which are some of the most biobased products in existence.

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Mr. KING. I would like to clarify that it is not the Committee's or the Senator's intent to exclude forest products from this program. And I would also like to clarify the meaning of the new provisions around innovation in the program.

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Mr. KING. Let me give the Senator an example of a forest products manufacturer in my home state that I believe is incredibly innovative in how they grow and source their materials for their products.

Verso Paper Company has 1600 employees at their two mills in Bucksport and Jay. They make coated commercial printing papers that utilize manufacturing technologies that deliver increasingly improved print quality through new coating formulations that incorporate newly developed chemicals and materials. These products are some of the most biobased products in the marketplace and should be eligible for the program.

In addition to these changes in their product, Verso has also in the last few years, significantly increased innovation in the sourcing of their products, by increasing the amount of certified, sustainable fiber that feeds their mills.

An improvement in this year's bill is the addition of language that allows for innovation in the sourcing and application of biobased products. In regards to innovation in sourcing of biobased products does the Senator agree that innovations like forest certification systems would qualify products for the program?

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Mr. KING. I thank the Senator. And what about companies like Robbins Lumber in Maine that produces solid wood products, like 2x4s or flooring? While the product may be the same product that has been on the market for decades, the company producing it now generates all the heating for the mill and offices as well as the energy for drying lumber from their own biomass waste, as compared with using energy from the grid. Further, they have worked with several organizations to permanently conserve thousands of acres of land for wildlife habitat and recreation.

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Mr. KING. I thank the Senator. Again I truly appreciate the attention to this issue and look forward to working with you and USDA in the implementation of this legislation to support the important forest products industry which has been an integral part of the economy of this country for centuries.

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