MFA seeks to maintain a political and economic climate in Mississippi and in the United States that is conducive to the development and wise use of forest resources for the long-term benefit of all.
Mississippi Forestry Association is Mississippi’s Voice of Forestry in national issues and in the Mississippi legislature. Issues such as the protection of private property rights, water quality, transportation, taxation, reforestation incentive programs, timber harvesting, and environmental regulation are of interest to Mississippi’s forestry community.
Through its publications, programs, and advocacy, MFA raises awareness of political and legal issues affecting sustainable forest management and timber harvesting.
MFA monitors hundreds of bills introduced each year in the Mississippi legislature, and alerts members to legislation affecting the forestry community. While the Mississippi Legislature is in session, MFA provides its members each week with a Legislative Bulletin outlining legislative activity, particularly subject areas regarding to forestry. MFA also partners with national organizations to support federal legislation and initiatives that support the interest of forestry. In recent years, MFA's lobbying efforts and members have been instrumental in the passage of significant legislation, including:
*Extended the statute of limitations on the crime of larceny of timber from two years to six years. This improvement will be a huge benefit to absentee and elderly landowners who have had timber stolen from their forestland.
*Prevented public access to cemeteries on private property, which would have threatened private property rights of forest and farm landowners.
*Advocated actively for investments in our state's highways and bridges to lower raw material transportation costs and keep existing forest products mills and markets competitive and open to forest landowners.
*Partnered with the Mississippi Lumber Manufacturers Association and other allies to create a short term operating capital loan program for existing forest products industries.
*Remained vigilant and protected private property rights by making sure that Mississippi's eminent domain law was not weakened.
*Prevented mergers of several forestry-related agencies that would have threatened future accomplishments and yielded negligible cost savings.
*Stayed "on guard" in all matters regarding ad valorem land taxes, making sure that forest and farm landowners would not shoulder an unfair tax burden to support counties and schools.
*Continued to build working relationships with all Representatives and Senators.
*Engaged all the CFAs and CFA members in MFA's government relations issues and activities through our expanding network of CFA Government Affairs Liaisons.
*Reduced sales taxes on logging equipment, parts, repair materials and labor; projected to save millions of dollars in our state's wood supply system. The state sales tax onlogging equipmentdropped from 3 percent to 1.5 percent, a 50 % reduction, on July 1, 2009. The sales tax onparts and labor used to repair and maintain the implements and equipmentwas reduced from 7 % to 1.5 %.
*Partnered with the Mississippi Loggers Association and other allies to renew the Harvest Permit for log trucks, allowing log truck weights on state and county roads up to 84,000 pounds.
*Protected private property rights by making sure that Mississippi's eminent domain law was not weakened.
*Engaged MFA's County Forestry Associations and CFA members in government relations issues and activities through our network of CFA Government Affairs Liaisons.
The Mississippi Legislature adjourned the 2008 Regular Session on Friday, April 18. MFA’s government affairs team focused on four major objectives in 2008. Working with MFA’s Government Affairs Committee, strategic coalition partners and forestry allies, MFA successfully achieved all four major objectives:
*Protected private property rights relative to eminent domain.
*Improved trespass protection for private forest and farm landowners.
*Prevented discrimination against wood building products in the application of building rating systems adopted by state government.
*Preserved and protected water quality in the state’s public waterways.
*Increased the Reforestation Tax Credit lifetime limit for forest landowners from $10,000 to $75,000.
*Successfully defended the MS eminent domain law to preserve private property rights.
*Loggers can now transport their timber harvesting equipment using a truck with an F license tag.
*Amended Forester’s Registration law to clarify who can legally claim to be a Registered Forester.
*Defeated an attempt to create a right of access to visit a cemetery on private land.
*Successfully opposed legislation that would have required the exclusive adoption of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system program.
*Focused on disaster relief and hurricane recovery for the entire forestry community after Hurricane Katrina.
*Worked to pass three federal forestry disaster relief programs: Emergency Conservation Program; the Emergency Watershed Protection Program; and the Emergency Forestry Conservation Reserve Program totaling over $1 billion.
*Worked to pass the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005 with tax provisions for small businesses and private forest landowners.
*Worked to merge the MS Institute for Forest Inventory (MIFI, created in 2002) with the MS Forestry Commission.
*Successfully opposed legislation that would have required the exclusive adoption of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system program, and that discriminated against the Tree Farm and Sustainable Forestry Initiative programs.
*For the third year in a row, successfully exempted forest landowners from unlimited ad valorem taxation authority and user fees to fund a proposed Stormwater Management District in Harrison County
*Passed legislation to provide limited immunity from criminal trespass for MIFI foresters conducting forest inventory on private lands.
*After Hurricane Katrina, worked with MDOT to increase truck weight limits up to 95,000 pounds for transporting damaged timber.
*Worked with US Congress to pass hurricane disaster relief funding for forest landowners after Hurricane Katrina.
*Passed a new Timber Theft statute requiring payment to timber owners within 30 days of harvest. Established mandatory payment of restitution to victims of timber theft and granted specific authority to the Agricultural Theft Bureau.
* Reenacted the Foresters Registration and Pulpwood Scaling Practices laws
* MDOT issued a Temporary Order of Authority to transport timber damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September in Alabama and Florida into Mississippi, allowing up to a maximum of 95,000 pounds gross vehicle weight per truck.
*Passed a conservation easement tax credit for landowners who participate in the Mississippi Natural Heritage Program or whose land is located along streams nominated to the Mississippi Scenic Streams Stewardship Program.
*An additional $10,000,000 in bond funding was provided to the Mississippi Land, Water, and Timber Resources Fund. This fund, governed by a board of directors, invests capital in forestry and agriculture-related economic development projects.
*Gov. Ronnie Musgrove’s forestry resolution was unanimously adopted by the Southern Governors Association. Calling on Congress and Pres. George W. Bush to enact financial incentives to help "keep working forests working,” this resolution, supported by MFA, highlighted the importance of the forest products industry to the South’s economy.
*The Legislature granted the issuance of a special Mississippi vehicle license tag for forestry.
*Passed the Forestry Economic Development and Strategic Planning Act, which created the Mississippi Institute for Forest Inventory.
*Successfully defended the Board of Registration for Foresters law and amended it to grant the Board appeals investigation power.
*Enhanced forestry economic development efforts with $10 million in bond finding for the MS Land, Water, and Timber Resources Fund.
*Participated in a task force to develop a strategic initiative for forest-based economic development created by Lt. Governor Amy Tuck.
*Assisted the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce in amending the criminal statutes regarding timber theft.
*Assisted the Mississippi Board of Registration for Foresters in amending the licensing law.
*Secured $200,000 in legislative funding for the MSU College of Forest Resources to conduct a pilot project using satellite imagery to inventory the forests in a four county area.
*Passed legislation to increase the statute of limitations under the timber trespass law.
*Passed legislation to increase the load width for trucks carrying certain forest products.
*Secured funding for a new Extension Service area forestry specialist position in northeast Mississippi to serve CFAs.
*Passed landmark legislation creating a reforestation income tax credit for private landowners. This legislation was awarded the most outstanding new state forestry legislation by the National Woodland Owners Association. Mississippi is the only state to ever receive this award twice in one decade.
*Passed the Mississippi Forestry Activities Act.
*Secured funding to create a Cooperative Extension Service logger education program under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
*Passed a new timber Weights & Measures law.
*Secured $500,000 in legislative funding to supplement the Forest Resource Development Program, a state cost share tree planting incentive program for private landowners.
*Secured legislative funding for a new forestry tax specialist position in the Extension Service to support MFA’s network of CFAs.
*Amended the forest fire acreage tax to purchase forest fire suppression equipment for the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
*Passed the Mississippi Prescribed Burning Act.