Your Comments needed on proposed changes to WI Forest Landowner Grant Program

The WI DNR is accepting public comments on proposed changes to the WI Forest Landowner Grant Program until June 25, 2019.

Information on the proposed changes can be found at WI DNR Proposed Program Guidance page, then under Proposed program guidance open for public comment, Forestry Grants, select the link to the draft document.

WWOA’s comments have been submitted to WI DNR.

If you have used this program in the past or hope to in the future, you may want to comment on the proposed changes, especially if your woodland is in the Managed Forest Law or Forest Crop Law programs.

[Read more…]

Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin

The Wisconsin DNR publication,  Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin, written for land and water conservation planners and managers, administrators, researchers, educators, students, landowners, and others interested in Wisconsin’s natural resources has been updated and released.  

The Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin is a compilation of ecological, social, and economic information about Wisconsin’s 16 distinct ecological landscapes that can help identify, locate, and sustain Wisconsin’s ecological resources.

The publication describes Wisconsin’s landscapes at the time of European settlement, how our natural communities have changed over time, and the emerging challenges facing them today.  It identifies opportunities in each landscape to restore and maintain ecosystems.

The Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin also identifies and prioritizes Wisconsin’s most ecologically important resources relative to the rest of the Great Lakes region, the North American continent, and the world.   [Read more…]

2018 Timber Tax Tips

The U.S. Forest Service has released the 2018 Tax Tips for Forest Landowners.  The Federal income tax provisions that apply to timber have changed for the 2018 tax year from the December 2017 new tax legislation.

To help family timber owners, foresters and their tax preparers in filing their 2018 tax returns, this bulletin provides income tax guidance that is current as of September 30, 2018.

Share these with your accountant!

Proposed Forest Tax Law Handbook Update Available for Public Comment

The Division of Forestry, Tax Law Section is soliciting public comment on proposed update to the Forest Tax Law Handbook (Handbook 2450.5), Chapter 20, Harvesting on MFL.

The draft is available on the Proposed DNR Program Guidance webpage  and comments will be accepted through December 5, 2018. Click on the link for more information.

USDA Resumes Continuous Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment

One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts through Continuous Signup

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2018 – As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.”

FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres.

2018 Signup for CRP

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. To view a full list of practices, please visit the CRP Continuous Enrollment Period page.

FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.

USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information.

[Read more…]

2018 Omnibus Bill Nixes DUNS and SAM Requirements for Farmers

Madison, Wis. ‒ April 23, 2018 ‒ Effectively immediately, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) financial assistance program participants will no longer need a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Number System (DUNS) number, or to register in the System for Award Management (SAM). The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (2018 Omnibus Bill), signed by President Donald Trump on March 23, eliminated these requirements.

According to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, DUNS and SAM were designed for billion-dollar government contractors, not everyday farmers trying to support their families. These changes help streamline the customer experience of farmers, which is a top priority at USDA, he said.

“This change greatly simplifies the contracting process for our customers and staff,” said Angela Biggs, Wisconsin State Conservationist. “Conservation program participants will soon receive letters from their local NRCS office with more details.”

The exemption does not apply to any current or future agreements or federal contracts with eligible entities, project sponsors, vendors, partners, or other non-exempt landowners or producers.

[Read more…]

2015-2016 Wisconsin Council on Forestry Biennial Report

The Wisconsin Council on Forestry Biennial Report for 2015-2016 can now be viewed. The Council is a board composed of individuals that represent all areas of forestry in Wisconsin. They advise the Governor, the Legislature, Department of Natural Resources, and other state agencies on aspects of forestry in the state.

The 34-page report covers accomplishments of the board, items the Council advised the Division of Forestry on, statistics about Wisconsin’s forests (including forested area, species composition, age class, volume, growth, the urban forest, forest health, ownership, incentives, etc.), economic opportunities and development, effects of state and local government laws, recommendations on staffing and funding for forestry programs, and raising the public’s knowledge and awareness of forestry issues.

It is a great snapshot of forestry in the state. You can find past biennial reports here

Updated Forest Tax Rates

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has released the new tax rates for use in 2018 through 2022 for land in the Managed Forest Law (MFL). These new tax rates are effective January 1, 2018.

The updated MFL tax rates saw an all around decrease. Open land entered before 2005 saw a decrease of 5¢ to $0.74 per acre. Closed land entered before 2005 dropped 12¢ to $1.75 per acre. Open land entered after 2004 decreased 10¢ to $2.04 per acre. Lastly, closed land entered after 2004 saw a reduction of 38¢ to $10.68 per acre.

Land in Forest Crop Law (FCL) will have the same tax rates in 2018. The current FCL tax rates were recalculated in 2012 and are effective until 2022. They are scheduled to be recalculated in 2022.

Annual Forest Tax Law Program Harvest Tax Rates

Annually, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Forestry Tax Law Section gathers stumpage values paid on privately-owned timber sales from lands enrolled in the Managed Forest Law and the Forest Crop Law programs throughout Wisconsin. Stumpage values are reported mainly by private-sector Cooperating Foresters with additional values reported by DNR Foresters. The stumpage values gathered indicate the value of standing timber on those specific stands at time of harvest.

With the passage of Act 358, the collection of yield taxes on MFL timber sales, and severance taxes on FCL timber sales was abolished.
The Department will continue to calculate annual stumpage values for use in the assessment of MFL withdrawal taxes in some limited circumstances and for determining penalty amounts for cutting merchantable timber in violation of s. 77.86 (and s. 77.06) Wis. Stats.

[Read more…]

Governor announces location of WI DNR State Forestry Headquarters

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources state forestry headquarters will be relocating to the DNR Rhinelander Service Center by the first of next year.

As outlined in the 2017-2019 state budget, signed by the Governor September 21st, the Chief State Forester will move to the DNR-owned facility north of Highway 29 by January 1, 2018.  Over the next year, other forestry positions, currently located in Madison, will move to Rhinelander or locations north of State Highway 29 in phases.

“This move will put the Division of Forestry and its leadership in a better position to work with the primary forest industries in the state,” said Governor Walker in making the announcement today in Rhinelander. “We will also be able to work more closely with our forestry industry partners in growing the state’s $24.7 billion forest industry that already generates nearly 65,000 jobs.”

Following the Chief State Forester’s move, other members of the forestry leadership team will also be in the Rhinelander headquarters by the first of next year.

“The DNR is looking forward to the opportunity of better serving the area where most of the state’s timber industry is located,” said DNR Secretary Dan Meyer. “Together with partners such as the U.S. Forest Service, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Wisconsin County Forest Association, we can better support and serve a thriving industry that is so important to our state’s economy.”

Every million dollars of output in the forestry industry creates $731,000 of output in other sectors. Every job in forestry supports 1.7 additional jobs in the state. Forestry is the number one employer in 10 counties.