Legislation Could Result in Use of Miss. Forest Products to Construct Taller Wood Buildings

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today announced his support for legislation to increase research and development into wood products that could lead to the construction of taller wood buildings.

Cochran is cosponsoring the Timber Innovation Act of 2016 (S.2892). The bill would authorize a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant program to spur research and develop wood products technologies that can be used in engineering and building systems. The program would focus on discovering innovations that would permit the use of wood products to construct buildings taller than 85 feet, roughly seven stories.

“The ability to use wood products beyond more traditional construction projects could have multiple benefits. Innovation by Mississippi State University and other institutions could help create new markets for Mississippi timber growers,” Cochran said.

The legislation would authorize matching grants through the USDA Forest Products Laboratory to public, private and tribal entities and partnerships. The grants are intended to advance technologies leading to taller wood building design and construction. Most wood buildings today typically do not exceed three or four stories in height.

The bipartisan measure has strong industry and university support, including the backing from the Mississippi Forestry Association, Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, Mississippi State University, the National Wildlife Federation, and other organizations.

There are 19.7 million acres of forestland in Mississippi. The industry earned $1.16 billion in value of production in 2015, a $138 million increase over 2014.

S.2892 has been referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee, on which Cochran serves as a senior member. The legislation was authored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).