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Archived 2009 News, Issues & Information

(12/13/09) Is your forestland a neglected aspect of your portfolio? Source:, 10/09.

(12/03/09) Death Tax Vote Today! Alert from Forest Landowners' Association:

DEATH TAX UPDATE - There is still time for your voice to be heard

Please call your member of Congress!

Take Action!

If you did not call your member of Congress yesterday, there is still time! The Estate Tax vote has been postponed until today (12/03/09). Please call and make sure your voice is heard.

Under current law, the Federal Estate Tax is scheduled to reach 0% in 2010. However, the U.S. House Leadership is in favor of changing this law and continuing the Estate Tax on a permanent basis at the current rate of 45% with an exemption of $3.5 million.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 4154, which would prevent the Estate Tax from reaching 0% next year.

Please call your member of the U.S. House of Representatives TODAY and ask that they vote NO on H.R. 4154, the so called "Estate Tax Relief Act." Tell your representative to maintain current Estate Tax law through 2010!

Forward this message on to all your friends, family and coworkers!

(11/24/09) Rule of Thumb for Buying Timberland: "If the amount of merchantable timber on a property represents at least 50 percent of the purchase price, you’re likely to make money either short-term or long-term." Source: Timberland investing: Different ways to make a future buck by Curtis Seltzer, 11/17/09.

(10/26/09) The Alabama Forestry Commission has proposed several regulations that will be of interest to forest landowners. Craig Hill, Chief of the AFC Law Enforcement Section, discussed the regulations on AFOA's October 22 issue of Capital Ideas - Live!
For a different perspective, read the remarks of Alabama Forestry Association Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson and a review of several of the proposed regulations by AFA Attorney, James H. McLemore, Capell & Howard, P.C. Update posted 10/29/09: PUBLIC HEARING TIME EXPANDED -- NOW FROM 10 AM TO 4 PM - with one hour lunch break - ON 11/3/09. See Calendar of Events.

(10/8/09) If there is to be a movement to restore economic values, it will have to cut across the current taxonomies. Its goal will be to make the U.S. again a producer economy, not a consumer economy. It will champion a return to financial self-restraint, large and small. Source: The Next Culture War by David Brooks, The New York Times, 9/28/09.

(9/5/09) Dixie Pellets in Selma closes doors. "The company, which manufactures wood pellets for heating, told about 70 workers Tuesday [September 1] they should not return to work." Source: Selma Times-Journal, 9/3/09

(7/29/09) Graph of Alabama Average Stumpage Prices. Source: Timber Mart-South.

(7/7/09) "No power plant would consider using pellets for one minute if they didn't have to do it." Source: The Wall Street Journal, 7/7/09.

(7/1/09) "Federal jury rules Baldwin biofuel entrepreneur must pay $10.4 million." Source: Mobile Press-Register, 6/30/09. Cello Energy leader Jack Boykin described his method for converting wood chips to biodiesel at AFOA Annual Meeting, April 23, 2009.

(6/17/09) The American Land Rights Association asks owners of forestland to call U.S. Senators to stop the June 18 mark-up of S 787 ("Clean Water Restoration Act"). Read June 15, 2009 Action Alert from ALRA. Editor's Note (6/19/09): "Thursday, June 18, 2009 the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed S 787 as the Baucus- Klobuchar Substitute by a strictly party line vote of 12 Democrats to 7 Republicans." Source: American Land Rights Association, 6/19/09

(6/14/09) A humorous, but helpful primer on "cap and trade."

(4/27/09) AFOA 2009 Annual Meeting Forest Taxation Workshop Slides by Dr. John Greene and Dr. Linda Wang available online. 100 pages, pdf file. Other publications given to participants of the workshop were Forest Landowners Guide to the Federal Income Tax (Ag Handbook 718) and Estate Planning for Forest Landowners: What Will Become of Your Timberland? (General Technical Report SRS-112).

(4/19/09) The Alabama House of Representatives recently passed a Resolution (HJR471) "Urging Congress to Correct the Definition of Renewable Biomass and to Prevent Certain Federal Actions Regarding Practices on Private Forestland." State Forester Linda Casey explains why the definition needs to be changed and urges landowners to contact their Alabama state senators and urge support of the resolution.

(4/6/09) Email Response From American Forest Foundation Answers AFOA Question of 4/2/09 on Unions, Tree Farm & PEFC.

Subject: Unionized Loggers

From: Simpson, Bob []
Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 5:14 PM


The American Tree Farm System (ATFS) supports fair labor practices, but neither ATFS nor its parent organization American Forest Foundation, does take or has taken a position on union organizing or state legislation relating to union organizing. Our mission is to support sustainable forestry by family forest owners across the U.S. In pursuit of this mission, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) has achieved international recognition of and approval of the ATFS as a credible, sustainable forest certification system. This recognition through the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) can bring huge benefits to family forest owners, through added value for their forest products and increased access to new markets. As part of the approval process for PEFC endorsement, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) Board of Directors agreed over a year ago that the ATFS will work to provide education and information about fair labor practices to the Tree Farm network.


Bob Simpson

Senior Vice President, Center for Family Forests
American Forest Foundation

(4/2/09) Will American Tree Farm System's PEFC [certified sustainably managed] endorsement require the adoption of ILO core labor standards and force unionization of U.S. loggers? Will union loggers improve forest management? Please read the Labor Endorsement Letter and MOU Final on Letterhead and let us know what you think. Send note to AFOA. Source: (go to bottom & click on ATFS Scheme documentation)

(3/24/09)  "Georgia Power destroys jobs by burning wood chips." Source: 3/24/09 Editor's Note: We suspect the writer at has it right. Federal and state subsidies may, in the short run, prop up biomass energy users. Prices for low quality wood (pulpwood) will be pushed to artificial highs; to compete for raw materials, paper mills will skimp on mill maintenance and equipment upgrades and some mills will finally move from the U.S. to friendlier countries. At some point U.S. politicians will lose interest in subsidizing biomass fuels and the powerplants like Georgia Power Company and other biomass users will stop buying biomass. The price for low grade wood will fall and there won't be a pulp & paper industry to pick up the pieces. End result: landowners won't have a market for low grade wood and will find it difficult to justify the long wait to produce and harvest quality wood products, such as poles and veneer. Lose. Lose. Lose.

(3/13/09) Capitol Action Alert Weekly Legislative Wrap Up from the Alabama Agribusiness Council, Montgomery. Please see HB202 & HB243.

(2/2/09) Let's see now... During inflationary times it's good to own physical things like gold and land and timber. Glenn Beck shows us the amount of cash being pumped into our economic system. If you don't have time for Beck, look at this graph.

(1/28/09) Etowah County property tax increase to be requested. From The Gadsden Times, 1/27/09: The Rev. Preston Nix, chairman of the Attalla City Board of Education, asked about the possibility of ad valorem tax increases by the Legislature. Nix said an increase in property taxes is needed and that property taxes are a stable revenue source. He said the gains that have been made in education will be lost if teachers are laid off. [State Rep. Jack Page, D-Gadsden] said a property tax increase would require a referendum. He pointed out it would be a year before a property tax could start being collected. Nix said after the meeting that he would propose the Attalla board ask the legislative delegation to pass legislation calling for a referendum on a countywide ad valorem tax increase. He said he thought the board would support the request. Nix added that efforts are needed for statewide ad valorem tax increases. If passed this year, [County Chief Executive Officer Patrick] Simms said after the meeting, new ad valorem taxes would not start being collected until October 2010. Etowah County Commissioner Larry Payne said people he talks to are not in favor of additional taxes. Sen. Larry Means, D-Attalla, said he would be willing to look at passing legislation allowing a referendum on ad valorem taxes.

(1/24/09) Australian geologist Ian Plimer argues that environmentalism is a religion.

(1/24/09) "Today's post will focus on estimates of timber volumes and values, how we get them, and how we forecast them for future year's cash flows." Source: The Timberland Blog, 1/20/09

(1/6/09) 18 Plants & 99 Animals are officially listed as endangered in Alabama. US Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program web page:

(1/2/09) Asking price: To set or not to set may provide food for thought if you are considering selling land this year. Other essays on the LandThink web page may also be interesting.