Funding for Wood Market Innovation

Funding for Wood Market Innovation

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

Ag innovators looking to expand markets for wood products have new opportunities for funding following the announcement that the USDA has set aside $13 million in grants.

The announcement came just months after wood industry reps testified in Congress about their need for federal assistance.

Caroline Dauzat, a 4th generation owner of the Florida-based Rex Lumber, told Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry that there is a need for additional research into new wood products and more large government projects such as those managed by the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense. Those projects directly expand mass timber markets but also advance the acceptance of innovative wood products in the commercial markets.

Additionally, she says her company has been looking into biochar production but so far has not found the markets to support their investment.

“Our primary constraints are workforce and transportation shortages. While residential construction has been and will continue to be a major portion of our revenue base, the industry is looking for ways to diversify our market base to lessen the impact on sawmill infrastructure when the next recession hits. We are looking to increase the use of mass timber for non-residential and larger multi-family housing construction projects. Utilizing more wood through mass timber also locks up carbon in the built environment.

This expands markets for landowners who produce trees for the benefit of society and the environment but most importantly creates and sustains good-paying jobs in our rural communities.

The USDA says the new grants are designed to develop and expand the use of wood products and strengthen emerging wood energy markets that support sustainable forest management – particularly in areas of high wildfire risk.

The application period closes, January 19, 2022.

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