USDA makes available some US$50M to strengthen forest products economy, boost forest sector jobs; funding expected to spark innovation, create new markets for wood products and renewable wood energy, expand processing capacity, help tackle climate crisis

Sample article from our Government & Public Policy

WASHINGTON , October 18, 2023 (press release) –

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is making nearly $50 million in grant funding available for proposals that support crucial links between resilient, healthy forests, strong rural economies and jobs in the forestry sector. Made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, this funding will spark innovation, create new markets for wood products and renewable wood energy, expand processing capacity, and help tackle the climate crisis.

“A strong forest products economy contributes to healthier forests, vibrant communities and jobs in rural areas,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are investing in rural economies by growing markets for forest products through sustainable forest management while reducing wildfire risk, fighting climate change, and accelerating economic development.”

This announcement is part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda to generate economic opportunity and build a clean energy economy nationwide. The grants are made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in history and a core pillar of Bidenomics, as well as President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, an historic investment to rebuild America’s aging infrastructure.

The open funding opportunity comes through the Forest Service’s three key grant programs to support the forest products economy: Wood Innovations Grant, Community Wood Grant, and Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant Programs. The agency is seeking proposals that support innovative uses of wood in the construction of low carbon buildings, as a renewable energy source, and in manufacturing and processing products. These programs also provide direct support to expand and retrofit wood energy systems and wood products manufacturing facilities nationwide.

The Forest Service is requesting proposals from eligible entities in the private, non-profit, and government sectors including Tribes, local and state governments, businesses and for-profit entities, institutions of higher education, as well as public utility, fire, conservation, and school districts, among others.

These investments will support forest management projects to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk across all land ownerships. Byproducts of these activities, like small diameter timber and woody biomass, have historically been of little market value. Thanks in part to these Forest Service grant programs, funding is available to support the use of this often-unused material in many types of wood products.

Businesses that are engaged in or support the forest products economy are eligible to apply for funding to expand manufacturing capacity. These businesses are vital employers in local communities, especially in tribal or rural communities.

The investments will also support the Forest Service’s 10-year strategy to address the wildfire crisis in the places where it poses the most immediate threats to communities. The agency is investing in projects that source wood from activities that reduce risks to communities, like prescribed fire and mechanical thinning to reduce the vegetation that fuels wildfires.

Visit the Forest Service webpage for more information on funding for the Wood Innovations, Community Wood and Wood Products Infrastructure Assistance Grant Programs.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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Jason Irving
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