Forestry Advocacy

VFA actively represents the forestry community in order to protect the interests of forest landowners, loggers, foresters, and wood product businesses.

See below for a 2017 Virginia General Assembly Report from Executive Director Paul Howe and visit our Forestry News page to view additional items we've been following and acting upon recently.

2017 Virginia General Assembly Report

The Virginia 2017 General Assembly commenced on January 11 and wrapped up on February 25 after considering nearly 3000 bills and resolutions introduced by Senators and Delegates during the 46 day session. VFA worked diligently to monitor and act on legislation of relevance to the forestry community, with particular focus on the state budget.

Budget highlights include:

  • Elimination of the Governor’s proposed $100 water quality inspection fee on loggers while maintaining the $500,000 in projected revenue from this fee for the Department of Forestry (DOF) to administer the state’s forestry water quality inspection program.
  • Restoration of a proposed $300,000 cut in the state’s portion of funding for the Reforestation of Timberlands (RT) program.
  • Gain of $113,360 for DOF to correct a loss of funding for an accounting and data management system in support of RT and other critical DOF functions.
  • Work to be continued on a one-time transfer of $340,000 from DOF cash balances in the agency’s Nurseries Fund and State Lands Fund into the state’s General Fund.

Other items of interest for the broader forestry and agriculture community included a substantial reduction in funding for the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID), restoration of funding for Coyote and Black Vulture Technical Assistance, and restoration of $2.04 million of proposed reductions for Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE). Other measures were included to better support VCE funding and economic development opportunities for agriculture and forestry through a cooperative Virginia Tech/Virginia State effort.

VFA was able to appropriately support, provide input, or at make sure no harm was done during the process on a wide variety of other bills. For instance, our friends in the agriculture community successfully followed up on VFA’s forest products truck weight legislation from two years ago with HB1519, a bill introduced by Del. Knight to provide increased truck weights for farm produce. There were a least two other bills attempting to address vehicle weight on roads and bridges.

Other bills we followed dealt with such topics as riparian forest and land preservation tax credits, control of bamboo, burning regulations, landowner liability, the Clean Power Plan and other potential environmental regulations, Scenic Rivers, and hunting dogs!

All 100 Delegate seats will be filled anew in November of this year, along with the election of our Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. VFA will engage in the election of General Assembly members through its VAForestPAC and by assisting with an Agriculture & Forestry Gubernatorial Forum of candidates scheduled for July 28 in Roanoke.

When 2018 rolls around, returning and new legislators will operate in temporary offices on Main Street in Richmond for the next four years while the current General Assembly Building is razed and a new one built. The final few days of the 2017 Assembly were a time of reminiscing and picture taking for officials, staff, and lobbyists, many of whom have toiled together for years in the current structure. However, eyes are on what lies ahead!

Be a Voice for Forestry

As a VFA member, you receive periodic Action Alerts encouraging you to take action on issues impacting the forestry community.  Not receiving these alerts?  Click here to subscribe.  Note: subscription does not initiate or renew VFA membership.

VaForest PAC

Virginia Forest Resources Political Action Committee (PAC) provides a means to educate our policy makers on the importance of forestry to Virginia and gives financial assistance to candidates who recognize and support forestry interests.  Click here to visit the PAC webpage.