Forestry News

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vfa voice

Friday, June 14, 2019  


VFA News

Government Relations



State News

VDGIF Appoints New Executive Director

National News

Enviva Launches Enhanced and Expanded Global Sourcing Policy

AF&PA Announces New President and CEO

Effects of Chinese Tariffs on U.S. Hardwoods Industry



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 VFA news

Government Relations

  • Since the beginning of May, Executive Director Paul Russell Howe, with help from VFA staff and leaders, has participated at eight state legislator campaign events providing campaign contributions through the association's Virginia Forest Resources Political Action Committee. During this time, Paul also attended three major political events, including the Republican House Majority Retreat and a Democratic House Caucus gathering. Paul estimates speaking with approximately 47 members of the House of Delegates and 11 Senators during this span, in many cases reflecting on legislation passed during the 2019 General Assembly, current issues of note, and the very active election campaign year which will culminate in November with the election of all 100 state Delegates and 40 Senators. VFA members are encouraged to consider a donation to the VAForestPAC to assist in the association's "Voice of Forestry" government relations work on behalf of the entire forest products and landowner community.
  • Albemarle Road Restrictions:  During 2018, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors began considering through-truck restrictions on specific road segments to address safety and operational concerns of the public. VFA recently followed up on an approved restriction in the County impacting a segment of Owensville Road. Cooperating with the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, Commonwealth Transportation Board, and Virginia Department of Transportation, work has been done toward an agreement to clearly exempt forestry and agricultural operations with language "excepting traffic from trailers used exclusively in connection with agriculture and forestry products equipment".
    VFA member Paul Haney of Environmental Timber Management, who also serve as President of the Albermarle County Farm Bureau Board of Supervisors, has been instrumental in this process, working closely with VFA consultant Lynwood Butner of  KVCF Solutions. The local Farm Bureau, Virginia Loggers Association, and others in the rural business community aided in the cause. It is hoped that a final exemption will allow continued operation and viability of farms, timbering operations, and related businesses that currently use Owensville Road. VFA members are encouraged to monitor local actions affecting forest industry road usage and to inform VFA so that we can assist in ensuring practical wood product transportation.
  • Update from U.S. Forest Service Tax Specialist Dr. Linda Wang:  The December 2017 tax law change (by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) included a provision that temporarily suspended (eliminated) the miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to 2% of the taxpayer’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). One of such miscellaneous itemized deduction is the investment property’s management expenses, which also include those expenses incurred for timber investment property. The deductions for timber business taxpayers are still available and are not changed. This change is effective 2018-2025 (8 tax years) unless Congress changes the law (prior to the end of 2025 when the new change expires). Itemized deductions include mortgage interests, property tax/state income taxes, other itemized deductions and miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2% AGI.

    Prior to the recent tax law change (suspension), the timber owners whose holdings were considered investment property could take forest management expense deductions as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, but were subject to the 2% AGI floor. For example, if a landowner incurred $1000 management expense, and his AGI was $40,000, he could deduct $1000-2%x$40,000 = $200 on his return. High adjusted gross income could eliminate the deduction due to the 2% AGI floor. This rule applied to all types of investment properties, not just timber held as investment property.

    After the recent law change, the deduction for state/local taxes (property tax and state income taxes etc.) are capped at $10,000.  That means for a couple filing joint return they will have an itemized deduction that is more than the $24,000 standard deduction, reducing the number of taxpayers taking itemized deduction overall due to the $10,000 cap among other things. Virginia state income tax and property tax on the residence together can not exceed $10,000 for 2018-2025. Prior to the recent law change, there was no such cap. This requires a legislative change by Congress (prior to the end of 2025). After 2025, the law will expire and presumably the old law will come back, absent of new law change by Congress.   

    Dr. Wang has met with the Congressional Committees and provided feedback on the impact of the tax law changes on forest landowners. She will continue to work on informing the policy deliberation in an objective manner.  

  • Chesapeake Bay WIP III Update:  Executive Director Paul Russell Howe recently submitted comments on behalf of VFA to the Department of Environmental Quality regarding the third phase of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The draft report, released by the Administration on April 5, revises the Commonwealth's goals for nitrogen and phosphorus reductions to the Bay by 2025 and sets policy recommendations on how to achieve those reductions. Please click here to view VFA's comments. VFA Advisory Council member William Snyder provided invaluable assistance in preparing these comments. 
  • The Disaster Relief Bill was enacted into law last week, helping more than 17,000 family forest owners who were impacted. The legislation provides assistance in removing millions of acres of dead timber that are fuel for large scale wildfires, as well as reforestation to put trees back on the land. VFA worked with national partners including the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and Forest Landowners Association (FLA) to support the passing of this bill. 


  • The Virginia SFI State Implementation Committee (SIC) SFI SICheld its second meeting of the year in Charlottesville at the Virginia Department of Forestry Headquarters on Wednesday, June 5. The Sub-Committees updated the VA SIC on recent events. Scott Barrett, Chair of the Logger Education Sub-Committee, shared that SHARP Logger Core classes (Sustainable Forestry, Logging Safety, and BMPs and Harvest Planning) were recently completed in Caroline County in May. The next round will begin in September in Galax (for more information, please contact [email protected]). Jennifer Gagnon, Chair of the Landowner and Public Outreach Sub-Committee, shared that there is a Blue Ridge PRISM Invasive Species Workshop (learn how to confidently identify and manage invasive plants!) coming up June 20th in Nellysford and October 9th in Charlottesville. There are also three full-day and two mini Generation NEXT workshops remaining this year! Highlighting a how-to for legacy planning for forest landowners, the next full-day workshop will be August 9-10, in Farmville (registration open now); the next mini session will be September 27th in Lebanon. Please visit the workshop website for an application and more information. Representatives from Virginia Tree Farm Foundation, Virginia Project Learning Tree, and the Virginia Department of Forestry were also present with Spring updates.

    If you’d like to know more about the SFI-SIC, please visit its website (stay tuned for website changes as we are under construction), or e-mail VFA Programs Coordinator Savannah Sharkey at [email protected]

  • The 2019 SFI Annual Conference will be held right in your backyard—well, you get it—Richmond, VA! Join SFI October 21-25, and learn how we can create opportunities that benefit forests and the people that depend on them, together. Please visit the conference website for more information and find out how you can register for this awesome event! SFI Conference


state news

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Appoints New Executive Director

Ryan BrownThe Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recently appointed Ryan Brown as its new Executive Director.  This appointment succeeds that of longtime director Bob Duncan, who retired April 1. Brown previously served as an appointed member of the board for the past two years and chaired the agency's Wildlife, Boat, and Law Enforcement Committee. He also previously worked as DGIF's Legislative and Policy Manager.  For more information about Brown and his appointment, please read this news release.

 national news

Enviva Launches Enhanced and Expanded Global Sourcing Policy 

Enviva recently announced it revised its sourcing guidelines to better reflect its commitment to the highest standards of sustainability, integrity, and continual improvement. For more information and to view Enviva's revised policy, please read the official press release


American Forest & Paper Association Announces New CEO

Heidi BrockThe American Forest & Paper Association announced this week that Heidi Brock, President and CEO of the Aluminum Association, will be joining AF&PA as its new President and CEO. Brock is succeeding Donna Harmon who served as President & CEO of the Association for twelve years and is retiring in the fall. “I look forward to leading the American Forest and Paper Association, a notable manufacturing trade association representing an industry that is unquestionably committed to significant sustainability goals and targets,” says Brock. For more information on Brock's appointment, please read the official press release from AF&PA. 


Effects of Chinese Tariffs on U.S. Hardwoods Industry

The Hardwood Federation recently wrote a press release on the impacts of the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. “The hardwood industry is a fully integrated industry, from logging to manufacturing finished consumer goods like flooring, cabinetry, moldings, railway ties and many other products,” says Hardwood Federation Executive Director, Dana Lee Cole. “The ongoing trade dispute with China and the declared tariffs on U.S. hardwood products are serious threats to the viability of the industry, and the people it employs.” For more information, please read the full press release from the Hardwood Federation. 


For more information on forestry news or other legislative items, and if you have any questions about VFA's representation of forestry interests at the General Assembly, please contact Executive Director Paul Russell Howe.

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 Virginia Forestry Association

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3808 Augusta Ave.

Richmond, VA 23230

(804) 278-8733

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