The Alabama Farmers Federation and Alabama TREASURE Forest Association on Monday expressed gratitude to Gov. Kay Ivey for awarding $10 million in federal coronavirus relief to help forest owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jimmy Parnell, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, thanked Ivey and State Forester Rick Oates for the relief for landowners who sold timber at reduced prices due to market disruption, according to a press release from the federation.
“COVID-19 has hit Alabama’s forest industry hard,” Parnell said in a statement. “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 will administer the grant program, which will provide payments to landowners who harvested timber during the months of March through July. The payment rate will be $1 per ton of timber sold, and payments will be limited to not more than $10,000 per applicant, according to the release.
William Green, executive director of ATFA, 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,” Green said. “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, and about 56 percent of Alabama forest land is owned by private landowners, according to the release. There are about 23 million acres of forestland in Alabama.