MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug 31 — The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama TREASURE Forest Association (AFTA) welcomed news today of $10 million in state coronavirus relief to help forest owners impacted by the pandemic.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell thanked Gov. Kay Ivey and State Forester Rick Oates for working to provide relief for landowners who sold timber at reduced prices due to market disruption.
“COVID-19 has hit Alabama’s forest industry hard,” Parnell said. “Prices have decreased for timber used for lumber as well as pulpwood used to make paper. We appreciate Gov. Ivey recognizing the importance of private forest landowners to our economy and environment. This funding will help lessen the blow for those who sold timber this spring.”
Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) will administer the Assisting Alabama Timber Owners Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic program. It will provide payments to landowners who harvested timber during the months of March through July 2020. The payment rate will be $1 per ton of timber sold. Initial payments will be limited to not more than $10,000 per applicant, pending evaluation of program participation and available funding.
The ATFA’s William Green said the program will help forest owners sustain ongoing management practices.
“Unlike seasonal crops, forest products are a long-term investment. It is challenging to recover from depressed prices at harvest because the investment in a mature tree often spans decades,” said Green, ATFA executive director. “This program will offset some of the losses timber owners experienced this spring and will help them continue managing their land for multiple uses, including wildlife habitat.”
The Alabama Department of Revenue estimates about 10 million tons of wood are harvested each quarter. About 56% of Alabama forest land is owned by non-industrial private landowners (family forests). There are about 23 million acres of forestland in Alabama.
AFC is developing application and payment procedures. The Federation and ATFA will provide more information as it becomes available.
Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to respond to and mitigate COVID-19. The $10 million in forestry relief is authorized as part of $300 million approved by the Alabama Legislature to be used to support citizens, businesses, and non-profit and faith-based organizations of the state directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.