May 15, 2008

Farm Bill Passes with Illegal Logging Provision Intact

Salmon disaster assistance totals $170 million for Pacific fisheries

Washington, D.C. - Protecting ecosystems across the globe and businesses here at home that are being devastated by the practice of illegal logging, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today praised the inclusion of an amendment to the Farm Bill based on the "Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007" which the senator introduced last year to halt the trade of illegal timber. American manufacturers are increasingly struggling to compete with the low-priced wood and wood products being harvested from illegal sources, and illegal logging is known to cause severe environmental damage in many parts of the world.

"The illegal logging provision represents hundred of hours of collective work by an unprecedented coalition of industry, labor and environmental groups," Wyden said. "This legislation will go a long way towards not only leveling the playing field for American manufacturers, but to protecting jobs and addressing the illegal logging crisis."

The illegal logging provisions in the bill will expand the Lacey Act — which currently regulates trade in fish, wildlife, and a limited subset of plants — to prohibit the import, sale or trade in illegally-harvested wood and wood products. By curbing illegal logging in regions including the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Siberia, the legislation also works to preserve and protect ecosystems that are being destroyed by this devastating practice.

Other Wyden-sponsored provisions in the Farm bill include the creation of a new program for sustainable development of bioenergy crops and biomass production, harvesting and processing. The bill also contains funding to develop advanced biofuels, and a new tax credit for production of cellulose-based ethanol while reducing the existing tax credit for corn-based ethanol. The funding for advanced biofuels shifts the incentive structure for ethanol production away from corn-based production and toward fuels that are based on crop residues, forest thinning, and wood waste.

"These provisions of the Farm Bill take important steps toward securing our energy future while helping American businesses compete fairly and freely," said Wyden. "I am pleased that my colleagues in the Senate support these common sense solutions to protect the environment and encourage the development of new energy technologies. These are the kinds of ideas that can make a difference locally and globally."

The Farm Bill also includes $170 million in disaster assistance to help commercial fishers and businesses that have been affected by the salmon closure in Oregon, California, Washington and Idaho. The funding is more than double the amount Congress gave Klamath Basin fishers for their salmon disaster in 2006. Though the legislation does not determine the amount of funding to be allotted to Oregon, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will distribute the funds among the affected states.

"The disaster relief funding included for our commercial fishing industry is a much-needed lifeline for lots of Oregon communities and families," said Wyden. "We look forward to working with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission - as we did in 2006 - to support the rebuilding of our salmon stocks and the businesses that depend on them."

Other provisions of the Farm Bill include:

  • Funding requested by Wyden to help Oregon's wheat growers and foresters with biomass collection;
  • An increase in food stamp benefits by $5.4 billion over the next 10 years;
  • The first boost to the food stamp minimum benefit in 30 years and one that is indexed to inflation;
  • New funding for specialty crop research with $230 million in grants as part of the new Specialty Crop Research Initiative;
  • An expansion of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to $466 million over the next 10 years;
  • The creation of the new Pest and Disease Program, sought by Oregon's nursery industry, which will provide $377 million over the next 10 years in funding for state agriculture departments to develop a cooperative agreement with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to combat invasive species and other plant health concerns;
  • Support for the growth and marketing or organic crop producers with $78 million for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative as well as $22 million for farmers transitioning from conventional to organic production - an increase of more than four times the amount included in the last Farm Bill;
  • Reauthorization of the SunGrant bioenergy research program, which includes Oregon State University, and
  • Increases the Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding by $3.4 billion over the next ten years - and expands eligibility to include nurseries and wineries.

More information about the Farm Bill can be found at