Bishop, Westerman Call Out Senate Democrats for Delay in Finalizing 2018 Farm Bill
WASHINGTON – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) issued the following joint statement regarding the Senate’s delay in finalizing the 2018 Farm Bill:
“Currently, nearly 1 million acres are burning nationwide. The 2018 Farm Bill contains bipartisan, commonsense forest management provisions to help prevent loss of life and property from these fires. Despite good faith efforts by the Farm Bill conferees, Senate Democrats refuse to even discuss these needed reforms.
“This is not the time for partisan politics – fires this year have already claimed six lives and millions of dollars in lost property. The 2018 Farm Bill presents a historic opportunity to address our nation’s wildfire crisis and stop catastrophic wildfires before they start. We urge our Senate colleagues to listen to the stories of the farmers and ranchers affected by catastrophic wildfire, and work swiftly to finalize the 2018 Farm Bill.”
2017 was one of the most expensive and devastating fire years on record, with the federal government spending more than $2.9 billion to suppress wildfires on 8.4 million acres of land. 2018 is shaping up to be just as destructive. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 62 active large fires are currently burning nationwide, consuming 937,244 acres. In 2018, 7.7 million acres have been devastated by wildfires. This fire season has already claimed at least six lives, and is on track to be one of the most destructive in a decade. As of Oct. 1, 2018, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts an estimated 121 million acres are at above normal risk of a significant wildland fire.
In November 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2936, The Resilient Federal Forests Act, with bipartisan support. The legislation was carefully crafted in close coordination with the Obama and Trump administrations, the U.S. Forest Service, local governments, industry, the House Agriculture Committee and many other stakeholders to provide land management agencies with the tools they need to streamline bureaucratic red tape to get work done on the ground quickly, expand the pace and scale of active forest management and stop wildfires before they start through strategic thinning of overgrowth and dead trees. The 2018 Farm Bill contains many of the provisions of H.R. 2936, all designed to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.