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Carter Leads Bipartisan Effort to Help Working Forests Recover from Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) joined Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) to introduce bipartisan legislation this week that would aid working forests in recovering from natural disasters.  The Disaster Reforestation Act would amend the tax code to recognize the value of destroyed timber.

“Since day one in office, Congressman Carter has been a champion of forest landowner issues,” said Joe Hopkins, a fourth-generation forester from Folkston. “Working and meeting with forest landowners on the ground and witnessing the tremendous losses they incurred with fire and other catastrophic events, he introduced the initial legislation to fix the limitation on casualty losses of timber in the tax code.”

The current tax code disadvantages forest landowners by restricting their ability to claim loss from destroyed timber, harming their ability to reforest lands.  Timber typically takes 20 to 80 years to yield profit for the forester making it extremely difficult to recover after a catastrophic loss. 

The Disaster Reforestation Act would reduce this financial burden by providing for the equitable tax treatment of casualty loss of their timber crop when disaster strikes. In doing so, it would foster stability and growth in one of Georgia’s key industries and promote environmental wellness through reforestation.

“Forestry is a vital part of rural economies all across our country, especially right here in Georgia,” Rep. Carter said. “Unfortunately, the current tax code provides no recourse for working forests struck by natural disasters. I’m proud to work with Congresswoman Sewell and our partners from across the country to address this issue. The Disaster Reforestation Act will ensure timber farming is a viable way of life, protecting the many jobs and consumer products it supports and its positive impact to our environment.”

Georgia is the top state for forestry in the nation with 22 million acres of commercially available, private timberland.  In total working forests support 141,214 jobs in the Peach State with an annual economic impact of $36.5 billion.

“Alabama’s beautiful forests keep our economy, our environment, and our people healthy,” said Rep. Sewell, the lead sponsor of the legislation. “But when disaster strikes, our private forest owners are often left devastated and without the ability to quickly recover. By fixing our tax code, the Disaster Reforestation Act offers a helping hand to Alabama’s private forest owners as they work to reforest after natural disasters. I am so proud to introduce this legislation and urge my colleagues to support it.”

Scott James, the CEO of the Forest Landowners Association praised Carter and Sewell’s effort to address this issue.

“America’s forest landowners have been waiting for this vital fix in the tax code and are appreciative of Representative Sewell and Carter’s efforts to introduce the Disaster Reforestation Act,” he said. “The legislation will not only help timber owners recover from natural disasters but will stimulate rural economies and support our nation’s domestic timber supply.”

In addition to the Forest Landowners Association, the legislation is supported by the Southern Group of State Foresters, the American Forest Foundation, the National Association of State Foresters, the Society of American Foresters, F&W Forestry Services, the Association of Consulting Foresters, and the National Alliance of Forest Owners.