President Obama signed into law the 2014 Farm Bill on February 7, 2014. The new law provides many important authorizations for rural development, energy, forestry, and conservation programs that serve the Northern Forest. This is a significant step forward after Congress delayed passing a Farm Bill for two years. Congratulations to all the advocates and partners that worked hard to make sure a collective voice for the Northern Forest was heard in the process.  Some provisions of note:

Over 200 people and organizations joined The Northern Forest Center and Sustainable Northwest on our letter to President Obama and leaders of Congress to establish to craft and support national energy policies that promote woody biomass thermal energy markets.

The Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) announced the winners of its 2013 round of grants. The Commission’s focus is to help address the community and economic development needs of the most severely distressed portions of the Northern Forest region.

U.S. Representatives Mike Michaud (ME) and Peter Welch VT) have introduced the Biomass Thermal Utilization (BTU) Act, a bill to spur the adoption of sustainably-harvested woody biomass as a heating fuel. This bill is a House companion to a similar bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Angus King and Susan Collins (ME) with co- sponsorship from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (NH). Current law leaves biomass out of energy tax credits that other renewable sources like solar and geothermal receive. The BTU Act will help level the playing field for biomass by: