Merkley, Wyden Announce Mass Wood Products Provisions Included in 2018 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that provisions of the Timber Innovation Act areincluded in the 2018 Farm Bill, supporting the development of mass timber products for building construction.

In May, Merkley co-led a letter with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) which urged the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry to include the Timber Innovation Act in the 2018 Farm Bill. Other cosigners included Sens. Wyden, James Risch (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Steven Daines (R-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Gary Peters (D-MI), Angus King (I-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

“We have been working to establish Oregon as a hub for mass timber products, using local timber and bolstering our forest products economy,” Merkley said. “The Timber Innovation Act supports innovative manufacturing that helps to create jobs in the rural part of the state, and lays the groundwork for future sustainable tall wood building construction across America. This is an exciting advancement for Oregon’s wood products industry.”

“Today’s good news for mass timber products in Oregon adds to our state’s well-deserved reputation for trailblazing fresh paths that succeed in creating jobs using innovative technologies,” Wyden said. “This bill provides essential resources to allow the state’s world-renowned timber industry to build on its strengths and creativity in rural Oregon.

Oregon has been at the forefront of developing mass timber products, including cross-laminated timber, mass plywood products, nail laminated timber, glue laminated timber, laminated strand lumber, and laminated veneer lumber. However, U.S. building codes do not currently recognize mass timber products as official construction materials, leaving the products without a standard rating system for quality, fire resistance, earthquake resistance, and more.

The Timber Innovation Act will establish a new research and development program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture that focuses on developing the application of mass timber products for building construction; analyzing the safety of tall wood buildings; identifying building code modification for wooden buildings; and calculating the environmental footprint of wood buildings. The bill also creates a grant program that provides funding to accelerate the adoption of emerging wood technology for building construction.

The next step for the conferenced bill is to be passed by the full Senate and House of Representatives, and then be signed into law by the president.