WASHINGTON--The American Farm Bureau Federation and 13 state Farm Bureaus are asking Congress to give federal land management agencies additional tools and resources to prevent and recover from catastrophic wildfires. The Farm Bureaus sent a letter to Senate leadership in support of the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. The bipartisan legislation being considered today will expedite forest management, accelerate post-fire restoration and reforestation, and remove dead and dangerous wood from national forests.
The importance of the legislation is demonstrated by the six million acres of forest land currently burning in the western United States. Since the beginning of 2020, in California alone, wildfires have burned more than three million acres and destroyed 4,200 structures.
“Backlogs inadequate management coupled with drier, hotter conditions, have resulted in unhealthy, overly dense forests,” the letter states. “When fires inevitably occur, these conditions result in larger, more catastrophic fires that are difficult to control, destructive to both urban and rural communities and pose great threats to both private property and human life.”
While the legislation will help mitigate future fires, it will not address the immediate needs of farmers and ranchers suffering devastating losses from fires burning right now.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall said, “The images of wildfires are heartbreaking when you watch a family’s livelihood disappear, but the damage continues long after the flames are put out. Smoke can damage soil and spoil crops, causing losses for several months after a disaster. In addition to better management of our forests, we need to be prepared to help farmers who have lost everything. We encourage Congress to consider additional disaster funding to meet the needs of communities affected by the wildfires.”
Farm Bureaus that signed the letter include the American Farm Bureau Federation, Alaska Farm Bureau, Arizona Farm Bureau Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, Colorado Farm Bureau, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Nevada Farm Bureau, New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, Oregon Farm Bureau, Utah Farm Bureau Federation, Washington Farm Bureau, and the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation.
Read the full letter here.