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The term "tree farm" was coined by lumber giant Weyerhaeuser in the middle of the 20th century. It has since come to be more broadly defined as any area of land managed to ensure continuous commercial production. Implied in this definition is that farm refers to harvest, and continuous production refers to sustainability. The federal government provides grants to support both.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Most tree-farm grant programs fall under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its various agencies. The majority are funneled through state departments of agriculture. They also may be obtained through nonprofit environmental organizations, producer associations and economic development groups. As such, they can be difficult to find. Contact your state department of agriculture to determine which of these programs are available where you live.
Forest Land Enhancement Program
The U.S. Forest Service administers the Forest Land Enhancement Program, which is an incentive program. Its mission is "to provide technical assistance to nonindustrial private forest owners to encourage and enable active long-term forest management." It assists with stewardship plans for sustainable agro-forestry applications that enhance the productivity of forest resources. To qualify for USDA assistance, landowners must have a land-management plan approved.
Forest Stewardship Program
The U.S. Forest Service also administers the Forest Stewardship Program. The FSP provides grants and technical assistance to nonindustrial private forest owners to encourage and enable forest management. A primary focus of the program is the development of "comprehensive, multiresource management plans that provide landowners with the information they need to manage their forests for a variety of products and services."
Small Business Innovation Research Program
In collaboration with the USDA Sustainable Development Council, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides Small Business Innovation Research grants. The grants allocate funding for small businesses to conduct research or develop innovative programs that enhance the state of U.S. agriculture.
Forest Biomass for Energy Program
NIFA also provides grants through its Forest Biomass for Energy program. This program is designed to support the development and use of low-value forest biomass for energy production with the goal of integrating the energy derived from it into existing manufacturing streams.
Tree Assistance Program
The Farm Service Agency Tree Assistance Program provides financial assistance to orchards and nursery tree growers to "replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters." Eligible trees include ornamental, fruit, nut and Christmas trees produced for commercial sale. Trees used for pulp or timber are not eligible for assistance.
Mike Gonyea served as an account manager and strategic planner at a Detroit advertising agency for 20 years. He has covered automotive finance, state and local government and interfaith issues for publications and websites including “The Detroit News,” American Thinker and A Common Word.