ABMA Attends Farm Bill Meeting; Joins Wood Markets Subgroup

Inflation Reduction Act

On Tuesday, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). A more elaborate signing ceremony will reportedly be held at the White House on September 6th when members of Congress will be back in town.

As we have noted in the last few weekly updates, there are a number of provisions in this new law of interest to the lumber and building materials (LBM) sector. Federal regulatory agencies ranging from EPA to the Department of Agriculture and the IRS will be busy over the next several months writing rules and providing guidance governing the manner in which funds authorized under this new law will flow. ABMA is on hand closely following the action and will be providing information on all of these forthcoming developments.

Farm Bill

Every five years our nation’s farm programs must be reauthorized through a comprehensive legislative measure known as the Farm Bill. The last authorization occurred in 2018 and that bill will expire next year. In addition to serving as the platform for our nation’s farm support and nutrition programs, the Farm Bill has a robust forestry title that includes a number of programs that promote wood building materials.

A broad coalition of forestry and forest products interests as well as conservation groups have formed once again for this Farm Bill reauthorization round. The group is known as the Forests in the Farm Bill (FIFB) Coalition and the group began meeting this week. ABMA attended a kick-off meeting which featured a discussion with Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee majority and minority staff discussing priorities in this next bill, as well as timing for action. While the current statute expires next year, hearings and the process of drafting the measure will begin in earnest later this year and early next.  In addition to being plugged into the larger coalition, ABMA is participating in a Wood Markets subgroup of the FIFB which is charged with developing policy recommendations to increase demand for wood building materials and wood energy. That group had an organizational meeting this week and will begin work in earnest in September. We will keep you apprised of developments. 

Workforce Development

Just before the August Congressional recess, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced H.R. 8567 and S. 4658, respectively. The bills, now pending in the House Education and Labor and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees, would establish and support postsecondary student apprenticeship programs. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Promote collaboration between higher education and employers by creating a grant program that aligns institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries to create apprenticeship opportunities for students.
  • Create competitive grants to drive apprenticeships expansion by providing institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries with funds to offset costs associated with developing and implementing student-apprenticeships.
  • Allow apprenticeship programs to qualify as work-study programs so eligible students (who demonstrate financial need) earn additional funds to pay their tuition through work that aligns with their coursework and their intended career path.

ABMA is reaching out to the bill’s sponsors for additional information and plans for action.