Hyde-Smith cosponsors effort to protect timber landowners

Published 12:00 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, has cosponsored Senate Bill 217, the Disaster Reforestation Act — a bipartisan bill that would allow forest landowners to deduct the full value of timber destroyed during disaster events. The tax code allows farmers and other agriculture crop growers to deduct the full value of their losses, but the current law states that timber rendered unmarketable after a disaster is still considered a taxable asset.

“So many of the private forest owners in Mississippi and across the country are really small, family-owned businesses that face financial ruin after floods, wildfires and other disasters,” said Hyde-Smith, who introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress. “We’ve needed this tax code change for a long time, and it is even more apparent now as Mississippi forest owners try to recover form the terrible drought and beetle infestations killing their trees. I hope this is the bill to get it done.”

The Disaster Reforestation Act would establish a basis for determining the amount of tax deduction in the case of loss of uncut timber from fire, storm, other casualty, or theft. With more than 19 million forested acres, timber and forest products represent a major component of Mississippi’s agricultural economy, generating more than $3.37 billion in income, and employing more than 67,000 workers. An estimate one-third of forest land in the U.S. is held by family owners.

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The bill was introduced by senators Bill Cassidy MD (R-La.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and is also cosponsored by Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and John Kennedy (R-La.). The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.