Forestry News

As a VFA member, you're kept up to date with forestry news through our e-newsletter What's Happening in Virginia Forestry Today.  See some articles from our most recent issue below:

   What's Happening in Virginia Forestry Today?

May 18, 2017

In This Issue...

What's Happening at VFA?

Federal Policy News and Updates

President Trump Signs Final FY 2017 Appropriations Bill

U.S. Commerce Department Imposes Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

Sonny Perdue Confirmed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Hearings on Next Iteration of Farm Bill Occurring Now

Virginia News and Updates

VFA Member Bear Island Paper Mill in Hanover to Close

Megan Seibel Appointed Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry

VFA Awards and Recognition

John W. Burke III Wins VFA's Distinguished Service Award

Robert W. Farrell Wins VFA's Outstanding Member of the Year Award

Cary Deffenbaugh, C&I Thinning is VFA's Outstanding Logger of the Year

Additional Recognitions

C.K. Greene is FRA's Southeastern Region Outstanding Logger

Secretary Molly Ward and Deputy Secretary Russ Baxter Receive Environmental Achievement Awards for State Public Service

State and National Partner Updates

Virginia Chamber of Commerce Releases 2017 Legislative Report Card, Recognizes 2017 Legislative Awards Recipients at 93rd Annual Dinner

Virginia FREE and VCU's Wilder School Co-Sponsor "The Virginia Economy: Workforce, Exports and Impact" Conference

NAFP Launches Walk in the Woods

 

Sidebar items:

Sponsor an Issue of What's Happening...?


Sponsor an Issue of What's Happening...?

Looking for a way to promote your company/organization while supporting your association? Have a special story you'd like to share with other VFA members? You can do so here! Choose between a feature article or simple advertisement. Your logo and additional information will appear here. See our Support Us page for additional information. 

 

What's Happening at VFA?

If you’ve been in touch with the VFA office since our last issue of What’s Happening…? you know that much of the time that’s passed has been spent prepping for and getting back into the swing of things after the 2017 Virginia Forestry Summit. We are thankful for all who attended and supported and enjoyed spending time with our members and other forestry friends in Roanoke! That’s not all we’ve been up to though!  Take a look at other recent happenings:
  • The Virginia Forest Resources PAC (VaForest PAC) has continued to support several campaigns and representatives and Executive Director Paul Howe has attended campaign events ensuring that legislators are kept up to date on forestry topics.
  • The VFA Board of Directors met during the 2017 Virginia Forestry Summit. During the meeting, outgoing Directors were recognized and thanked for their service.

  • VFA staff and members attended a celebration of Earth Day and Arbor Day hosted by Governor and Mrs. McAuliffe.
  • Paul Howe attended a Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environment Advisory Board Meeting and the College of Natural Resources and Environment's Annual Awards Banquet.
  • Deputy Executive Director Shannon McCabe represented VFA at the 28th Annual Environment Virginia Symposium. VFA is a proud sponsor of this event which brings together professionals from across the state to help solve Virginia’s complex environmental challenges.
  • Virginia Tree Farm Foundation representatives hosted a Tree Farm Inspector training workshop for students at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.
  • VFA staff attended a celebration of 100 years of Virginia Department of Forestry nurseries, during which the First Lady of Virginia lifted the 2 billionth seedling from DOF's Garland Gray nursery.

  • The VFA Magazine Committee met to review previous and discuss plans for upcoming issues of Virginia Forests.
  • The VFA Strategic Planning Oversight Committee met by conference call to review implementation status of VFA’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan.
  • The VFA Awards Committee met by conference call to review nominations for VFA’s 2017 Outstanding Logger, Outstanding Member, and Distinguished Service Awards. Read about the recipients below!
  • Shannon McCabe participated in a Virginia Division of SAF Executive Committee meeting to discuss ongoing partnership efforts between VFA and the Division.
  • Paul Howe officially joined the American Forest Foundation’s Woodlands Operating Committee, participating in several calls related to AFF initiatives and policy updates.

Federal Policy News and Updates

President Trump Signs Final FY 2017 Appropriations Bill

The President has signed the final FY 2017 appropriations bill, which contains several provisions of interest to VFA members. VFA has been actively monitoring the status of this bill and actions of our national partners including the American Forest & Paper Association, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Forest Resources Association, Hardwood Federation, and National Alliance of Forest Owners, with specific regard to the following:

Biomass: The bill includes a provision that directs the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to recognize benefits of biomass. This is a significant step forward in our efforts to secure the recognition of biomass carbon neutrality in federal policy for the long term and getting such recognition codified has been a long time goal for many in the forest products industry, including VFA. The language is below:

SEC. 428. To support the key role that forests in the United States can play in addressing the energy needs of the United States, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall, consistent with their missions, jointly— (1) ensure that Federal policy relating to forest bioenergy— (A) is consistent across all Federal departments and agencies; and (B) recognizes the full benefits of the use of forest biomass for energy, conservation, and responsible forest management; and (2) establish clear and simple policies for the use of forest biomass as an energy solution, including policies that—(A) reflect the carbon-neutrality of forest bioenergy and recognize biomass as a renewable energy source, provided the use of forest biomass for energy production does not cause conversion of forests to non-forest use. (B) encourage private investment through-out the forest biomass supply chain, including in— (i) working forests; (ii) harvesting operations; (iii) forest improvement operations; (iv) forest bioenergy production; (v) wood products manufacturing; or (vi) paper manufacturing; (C) encourage forest management to improve forest health; and(D) recognize State initiatives to produce and use forest biomass.

Wildfire Emergency Spending: $407 million in wildfire emergency spending is also included as part of the spending plan, providing some relief to Forest Service programs that have seen their funding diverted to forest fire abatement in the past. However, this does not fix the long term structural issues with the program and VFA will continue to support national partners working towards a more permanent solution.

Timber Harvest Programs: The bill includes an $8 million increase in the timber sale program for National Forests, which is a 2.2 percent increase over the FY 2016 enacted level. Timber sale funding has continued to incrementally increase over the last several years growing from $318 million in FY 2013 to $367 million in FY 2017.

H-2B: The funding agreement released this morning provides the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the authority to raise the H-2B cap when he determines that there is an economic need. It limits the total number of H-2B workers that may enter the U.S. during fiscal year 2017 to 129,547, the number of new and returning H-2B workers admitted to the U.S. in fiscal 2007. The language is below:

SEC. 543. Notwithstanding the numerical limitation set forth in section 214(g)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)(1)(B)), the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of Labor, and upon the determination that the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied in fiscal year 2017 with United States workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform temporary nonagricultural labor, may increase the total number of aliens who may receive a visa under section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b)) in such fiscal year above such limitation by not more than the highest number of H–2B nonimmigrants who participated in the H–2B returning worker program in any fiscal year in which returning workers were exempt from such numerical limitation.

Trucking: Also included was a trucking industry-supported provision that would suspend implementation of an hours of service rule setting new minimum overnight rest periods for commercial truckers. However, language preempting states from setting their own meal and rest break requirements for truckers was omitted from the package.

The National Forest System received an almost $4 million increase overall, which amounts to less than one half of one percent. For nearly all NFS programs, funding is flat, except for the 2.2 percent increase in NFTM (timber), and a 1 percent increase in Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness spending. The report notes that the NFTM increase should be used “to build the timber program capacity by facilitating the necessary planning work and the hiring and training of timber management personnel to deliver increased volume levels.” It’s worth noting that the House Report called for an increase in timber outputs for FY 2017 to 4 Billion Board Feet.

The Omnibus combines the old Inventory & Monitoring line item with the Land Management Planning line item, to create a Land Management Planning, Assessment, & Monitoring line item, although it keeps funding essentially flat.

By eliminating a deferred maintenance fund, the bill provides a $3 million increase in Capital Improvement & Maintenance – Roads (CMRD) funding, bringing that program to just over $175 million. While this is up substantially ($9 million) since FY 2014, it is still $7 million below the FY 2013 enacted level, even without controlling for inflation.

The bill continues Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) at $40 million. It also, in report language, directs Regions 1, 3, and 4 to continue using the Integrated Resource Restoration (IRR) approach to budgeting, rejecting a House proposal to expand that program to regions 2 and 5. The budget no longer displays IRR as a separate line item, apparently leaving it to the Forest Service to provide funding from an appropriate mix of line items.

Land Acquisition comes in for a $9 million cut, roughly 14 percent below the FY 2016 enacted level, but still above the FY 2014 enacted level.

The Research & Development and State & Private Forestry line items come in for further reductions: R&D is down to $288 million a $3.4 million cut, while S&PF funding is down $20 million, to just $216 million.

Funding for Hazardous Fuels Reduction received a $15 million boost, to $390 million (an increase of 4 percent), while there is enough Wildfire Suppression emergency and contingency spending included to (most likely) prevent the need for any “fire borrowing” in the current fiscal year.

Report Language: The report accompanying the bill notes that all language included in the House and Senate reports is still in effect, meaning provisions admonishing the agency to more aggressively use K-V authority, to cooperate with the State of California on dealing with forest mortality, and setting a goal of 4 Billion Board Feet of harvest remain in effect. The conference report includes language directing the Forest Service, EPA, and DOI to report on Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) payments within 60 days of enactment.

Additionally, as reported by our friends at the Southern Group of State Foresters, among State Forester priority programs, overall programs fared much better than expected given the current budget climate and proposed cuts floating around. Compared to FY16 levels, the bill:

  • Increased the funding for FIA from $75 to $77M; however, the overall R&D budget is decreased by $2.5M, which means a reduction of $4.5M for non-FIA R&D
  • Increased funding for Volunteer Fire Assistance, up from $13 million to $15 million
  • Level funding for LSR ($14M), Urban & Community Forestry ($28M), Forest Legacy ($62.3M) and State Fire Assistance ($78M)
  • Decreased funding for Forest Stewardship, down from $23M to $20M
  • Decreased funding for Forest Health, both on the Federal side ($58.9M down to $55.5M), and Cooperative lands side ($40.7M down to $39M)
  • Increased funding for USFS Hazardous Fuels, from $375M to $390M. Within this amount, $15M is for biomass utilization grants
  • Increased funding for EPA 319 Grants (nonpoint source pollution), from $165M to $170M

U.S. Commerce Department Imposes Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber

As reported by our national partners the Hardwood Federation and the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA), in late April, the federal Administration made waves by announcing their intent to impose a 20% tariff on imports of Canadian softwood lumber. This is the latest development in a decades long battle between the two countries on softwood lumber exports from Canada. The decision is a preliminary one; before the tariff is fully implemented, the U.S. Commerce Department will have to make a final determination and finding of injury to the industry as will the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The U.S. Commerce Department (Commerce) issued its affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of softwood lumber imports from Canada. The preliminary anti-subsidy rates range from 3.02% to 24.12%. The Commerce ruling would allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to require cash deposits on Canadian softwood lumber imports on these preliminary rates. In 2016, softwood lumber imports from Canada amounted to $5.66 billion. A countervailable subsidy is financial assistance from a foreign government that benefits the production of goods from foreign companies and is limited to specific enterprises or industries. In this instance, Commerce found that the Canadian government unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry by selling wood from government lands at low prices. Commerce is scheduled to issue its final CVD determination on September 7. If the preliminary decision stands, and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) makes a final injury determination, Commerce will issue a final CVD order.

The petitioner representing a coalition of U.S. softwood lumber producers, also filed an antidumping (AD) petition with Commerce charging that Canadian softwood lumber is being dumped in the U.S. market (i.e., being sold in the U.S. at a lower price than in the Canadian market.) Last week, Commerce announced that the preliminary AD determination will be issued by June 23. As in the CVD case, the USITC will need to make a final injury determination before Commerce can issue final AD order. These trade cases are part of a decades-long dispute between the two governments and their softwood lumber producers. Until October 2015, the softwood lumber trade was managed under the 2006 Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement. After a one year standstill period following expiration of the agreement, during which the two governments failed to agree on a new trade regime, the U.S. industry proceeded with the trade petitions in November 2016.


Sonny Perdue Confirmed as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

On Monday April 24th the Senate confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture by an 87-11 vote. Gov. Perdue grew up on a farm in central Georgia and has owned several agriculture companies. At his confirmation hearing Gov. Perdue mentioned multiple times the need for a strong forest products industry and the need for putting more resources towards improving forest health.


Hearings on Next Iteration of Farm Bill Occurring Now

Although it seems as though we just finished the last Farm Bill, VFA and our national partners are gearing up for the next iteration. The Farm Bill, the 5-year, comprehensive legislation that governs everything from forestry to row crop and dairy price supports to nutrition programs to trade, will expire in 2018. Several hearings have already been held in the House Agriculture Committee, including one focused on forestry components, with more planned. On the Senate side, we expect hearings to be scheduled beginning in the second quarter. The upper chamber has been mainly focused on new Administration and Supreme Court hearings thus far in 2017, but Ag Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) has signaled he wants a bill crafted sooner rather than later.

VFA continues to monitor these and other previously reported federal policy issues and updates. Contact Executive Director Paul Howe with questions.


Virginia News and Updates

VFA Member Bear Island Paper Mill in Hanover to Close

The Bear Island newsprint manufacturing mill in northern Hanover County is being closed, affecting 165 employees, its parent company announced Wednesday. White Birch Paper Co., a Connecticut-based company that owns the plant, said it plans to idle paper-making operations at the local mill indefinitely. The company said it will supply customers, which include the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other Virginia publications, from its three other paper mills in Canada.

The Bear Island mill produces about 240,000 metric tons of newsprint annually. The plant, located just south of the Kings Dominion theme park, opened in 1979. It underwent an expansion in 1994 that added a recycling plant that turns old newspapers into pulp to make newsprint.

The company said the 165 employees of its Bear Island mill were notified Wednesday of the pending closure. The final date of operations will be announced shortly, the company said. Employees will be given severance payments and job placement services, a spokesman said.

White Birch blamed the closure on “difficult market pricing, challenging cost fundamentals and declining demand.” “It is truly unfortunate to have to make this difficult decision, and we will be forever grateful to the employees at Bear Island for their tireless efforts and service,” said Christopher Brant, the company’s president and chief operating officer, in a statement.

White Birch said it will also explore “alternative industrial options” for the site. The company did not indicate whether it plans to sell the plant, which sits on a 250-acre property.
Bear Island has been an active member of VFA and we offer condolences to all those impacted by this closure.


Megan Seibel Appointed Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry

Megan Seibel has been appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Megan most recently served as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Previously she served as the inaugural director of the Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) Program at Virginia Tech. She is also the Associate Director for the Center of Cooperative Problem Solving at Virginia Tech and an Associate Fellow of the Occupational Research Centre in the UK. Megan received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from James Madison University, her Master of Science in Career and Technical Education from Virginia Tech, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural and Extension Education from Virginia Tech. Megan and her family manage a wine grape and beef cattle operation in Botetourt County.  VFA looks forward to working with Megan in this new role!


VFA Awards and Recognition

John W. Burke III Wins VFA's Distinguished Service Award

John W. Burke III exhibits strong commitment to land management and the conservation of Virginia’s forest resource as well as to forestry education and leadership service. In recognition of these commitments, John received Virginia Forestry Association’s Distinguished Service Award at the 2017 Virginia Forestry Summit.

John is a landowner in Caroline County, in central Virginia, where he manages his family forest with hardwood and pine species. Burke Woodlands is a certified Tree Farm, certified by the American Tree Farm System as a sustainable woodland. The Burke family manages for the long range, the farm has been in their family for six generations and John is working to ensure that the next generation will be able to pass the land on as well. John is renowned for his experimental planting of long leaf pine and bald cypress in an area usually not known for these species.

“John Burke exemplifies the ideals of leadership, commitment, and integrity in forestry” stated John Magruder, Consulting Forester. John and his family forest, Burke Woodlands, have been the focus of many forestry tours and educational visits for school children, teachers, forest landowners, and legislators. “If you’ve ever been to one of these tours you can feel John’s enthusiasm and love of his woods…he truly is dedicated to leaving the legacy of a better forestry future on his land” remarked Magruder.

John is a Past President and member of VFA and currently serves on the Virginia Board of Forestry, which advises the Governor and Virginia State Forester on forestry matters. His is also a member and past Chair of the American Forest Foundation Board of Trustees. John has written and spoken frequently on forestry issues and he is the author of an article in Tree Farm Magazine, “Forestry and the Law” that details the top ten legal concerns for forest owners. He has testified before Congress on several occasions on forest management and renewable energy issues.  Read more about John and the award in this news release.  Congratulations, John!

John Burke (center) proudly displays his award.  Also pictured are Dean Cumbia, Virginia Department of Forestry and John Magruder, Three Rivers Forestry and nominator.


Robert W. Farrell Wins VFA's Outstanding Member of the Year Award

Robert W. Farrell has worked diligently over the past year leading efforts to review the operating structure of Virginia Forestry Association (VFA), propose restructuring changes, and develop a plan to implement these changes. In recognition of this work, Rob received VFA’s Outstanding Member of the Year Award at the 2017 Virginia Forestry Summit.

In his role as VFA’s Restructuring Task Force Chair, Rob’s visionary and organizational talents led the team to develop viable transition strategies as well as a draft transition plan. His commitment, patience, perseverance, and enthusiasm helped to keep his group on task through a challenging process. During this time, Rob arranged and participated in meetings, researched, developed proposals, and supported VFA’s President in this important action item in VFA’s strategic plan.

“Rob has gone above and beyond the call of duty by taking on a leadership role in VFA’s restructuring proposal process,” said Carolyn Mulligan, Past President of Virginia Forestry Association. “His commitment has certainly been a great benefit to VFA and will help position us for better efficiency and effectiveness in the coming years.”

Rob is currently Deputy State Forester for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). He has been a VFA member since 2007 and currently serves on the VFA Board of Directors. Rob is also currently serving a second term on VFA’s Executive Committee and has been actively engaged on several additional VFA committees and task forces. Read more about Rob and the award in this news release.  Congratulations, Rob!

Rob Farrell proudly displays his award with VFA Past-President and nominator Carolyn Mulligan.


Cary Deffenbaugh, C&I Thinning is VFA's Outstanding Logger of the Year

Virginia Forestry Association (VFA) recognized Cary Deffenbaugh, owner of C&I Thinning as VFA’s 2017 Outstanding Logger of the Year at the 2017 Virginia Forestry Summit Awards Banquet.

Cary Deffenbaugh started logging in 1985 has owned his own business since 1988. C&I thinning operates two crews, a pine thinning crew that uses a knuckleboom loader with a delimber along with a skidder and a cutter and a conventional clear cutting crew that uses a loader/delimber, 2 skidders and a cutter. C&I has five of their own trucks for hauling and uses four contract haulers. On average, both crews together produce 90 loads of pulpwood and saw timber per week.

“C&I Thinning endeavors to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the benefits that the forest environment provides,” said Richard W. Gouldin, Jr., Supply Chain and Environmental Manager for Potomac Supply LLC. “As a true advocate for sustainable forestry, Cary Deffenbaugh integrates the regeneration, growing, nurturing, and harvesting of one of our most precious natural resources while conserving soil, air and water quality, wildlife and fish habitat, and landscape aesthetic quality.”

C&I Thinning is an active member of VFA and the Virginia Loggers Association and is a previous Logger Merit Award recipient. Cary Deffenbaugh and his family of employees are community advocates and supporters, contributing to and actively promoting Log-a-Load for Kids. They recently won recognition and praise for their float in the 2016 Caroline County Annual Christmas Parade displaying a Log-A-Load for Kids banner and presenting a positive public image. Read more about C&I Thinning and the award in this news release. Congratulations, Cary and the C&I Thinning team!

Cary Deffenbaugh (right) with his wife Ivadene and nominator Rich Gouldin, Potomac Supply.


Additional Recognitions

C.K. Greene is FRA's Southeastern Region Outstanding Logger

VFA national partner the Forest Resources Association (FRA) and STIHL Incorporated honored VFA member C.K. Greene, owner of Virginia Custom Thinning & Chipping LLC in Dolphin, Virginia, as FRA’s Southeastern Region 2017 Outstanding Logger at its Southeastern Region Awards Dinner in Charleston, South Carolina on May 3. C.K. Greene is a NC State Forestry grad who spent 14 years as a procurement forester before he started his own logging business in 2007. Beginning with a three-man crew cutting small tracts, he has now become a fully mechanized operation, producing around 20 loads a day. As he has grown, he credits the great attitude of his crew members for his success, and he displays his own good attitude, stating that “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” Read more about C.K. and this award in the press release here. VFA offers our congratulations to C.K. on this honor!

C.K. Greene (center), receives FRA’s 2017 Southeastern Region (SER) Outstanding Logger Award from SER Chairman Barry Parrish (left) and STIHL’s Kent Hall (right).


Secretary Molly Ward and Deputy Secretary Russ Baxter Receive Environmental Achievement Awards for State Public Service

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies selected Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and her deputy, Russ Baxter, in recognition of their leadership and advocacy for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay. “Throughout their careers, Molly and Russ have distinguished themselves as devoted stewards of the Commonwealth’s waters. As Governor, I’ve seen firsthand the enthusiasm, resourcefulness, and pragmatism they bring to these important issues,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I can imagine no one more deserving of national recognition for their hard work on water quality issues and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration.

”For more than four decades, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies has represented public wastewater and stormwater agencies from across the country. Its National Environmental Achievement Award Program recognizes individuals and agencies that have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection and the clean water community. Secretary Ward and Deputy Secretary Baxter, this year’s only state-level recipients, were both unanimously selected for honors by the Association’s Awards Committee. “Since I was a little girl, the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers have been a constant source of joy and a frequent source of concern,” said Secretary Molly Ward. “It’s an honor and a privilege to work every day to improve the health of Virginia’s waters and the communities that rely on them.” “The restoration of Chesapeake Bay has been my life’s work,” said Deputy Secretary Russ Baxter. “Thank you to NACWA for this honor and their partnership in the ongoing progress toward safe and clean water throughout Virginia and the nation.”


State and National Partner Updates

Virginia Chamber of Commerce Releases 2017 Legislative Report Card, Recognizes 2017 Legislative Awards Recipients at 93rd Annual Dinner

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce releases an annual Legislative Report Card, which grades legislators based on their support of pro-business issues during the General Assembly session. The Legislative Report Card recognizes legislators for their support for the principles and initiatives outlined in Blueprint Virginia: A Business Plan for the Commonwealth. Now in its sixth year, the 2017 legislative report card also includes lifetime grades along with the grades for the most recent legislative session. “We made significant progress this legislative session on issues that impact Virginia’s business climate, particularly in the area of education and workforce development,” said Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud members of both parties who took action on priorities in the Chamber’s long-term Blueprint and put us on track for long-term economic growth.”

Senator Bill Stanley (R-Moneta) was named 2017 Senate Legislator of the Year and Delegate Tim Hugo (R-Centreville) was named 2017 House Legislator of the Year. The Virginia Chamber’s Legislator of the Year Award is the business community’s premier legislative award honoring the lawmaker who demonstrates outstanding leadership on pro-business issues. Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his thirty years of service in the General Assembly and his support of policies that encourage growth and competitiveness. A number of additional legislators were also recognized for their leadership in specific areas. A description of each award is available in the full report card here.

Award recipients were honored at the Chamber's 93rd Annual Dinner and 2017 Legislative Awards Recognition on May 11. VFA is a proud member of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director Paul Howe attended the event.

VFA Member WestRock's Matt Wells looks on after recognizing Del. Tag Greason at the Chamber's Dinner.


Virginia FREE and VCU's Wilder School Co-Sponsor "The Virginia Economy: Workforce, Exports and Impact" Conference

Virginia lawmakers and business leaders met at the state Capitol in early April to hear from Wilder School economic policy experts, industry representatives and top public officials to examine key issues facing the commonwealth’s changing economy. Virginia FREE, a coalition of business leaders actively involved in public policy decision making and state politics and The Wilder School co-sponsored the April 4 conference, “The Virginia Economy: Workforce, Exports and Impacts." VFA is a proud member of Virginia FREE and Executive Director Paul Howe attended the conference.

Technological change, the growing export market and the importance of workforce development emerged as the key themes. Virginia FREE Executive Director Chris Saxman gives opening remarks. “Exports play an important role in the new Virginia economy, and we have to diversify it even more,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. ”There’s still an over-reliance on federal spending.” Basil Gooden, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, said his office is focusing on the nexus between economic development and agriculture. ‌“The future of farming belongs to those who can embrace technology and innovation,” he said, calling those who blend innovation and entrepreneurship “agri-preneurers.”Additional topics explored during the conference included the Metro Richmond Exports Initiative, results of the 2015 Workforce Development Survey, and an overview of the Virginia Economy with a focus on labor market trends, technology impacts, and workforce training. Read additional information about the conference here.

Virginia FREE Executive Director Chris Saxman gives opening remarks at the conference.


NAFP Launches Walk in the Woods

On May 10, the North American Forest Partnership (NAFP) launched ‘Walk in the Woods,’ a communications program to engage the public in conversation about forests, the future of forests, and the social, economic, and environmental benefits they create. NAFP includes more than 110 members, including VFA, who represent all segments of the forest sector and who are united by a shared ethic of forest stewardship. The Partnership works with members to align and amplify the diverse voices of the forest sector, celebrating their stories and hosting conversations that will help shape the future of forests.

NAFP is inviting those outside the forest sector to learn more about our diverse roles as responsible, innovative stewards of North America’s many different forests. We will provide straight answers to the public’s questions about what we do and why we do it. In addressing these questions, we’ll share a rich and fascinating story about forest ecosystems, forest products, forest communities, forest people, and keeping forests as forests. About the role trees play in maintaining our health. About water, wildlife, a healthy planet and a healthy economy. And about innovation, partnership, research, responsible management, conservation, and sustainability. A story about the opportunities, challenges and choices landowners and society face in deciding the future of the many different forests in North America.

To learn more, check out the Walk in the Woods website, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and become part of the conversation by sharing these and your own stories!


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 Howe.

Twitter_logo_blue 2 image001 image004


 

Virginia Forestry Association

3808 Augusta Ave.

Richmond, VA 23230

804-278-8733

vfa@vaforestry.org

www.vaforestry.org