- The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has announced a set of 2017 advocacy priorities with "smarter" regulations at the top of the list. Resolving policy on biomass carbon was cited as a top priority, along with updating a "cumbersome" air permit process and addressing the "overreach" of water regulations in favor of a more "reasonable, science-based" approach.
- AF&PA will also advocate for tax reform, specifically lower tax rates for all businesses. The association will also work for policies that "support investment in US manufacturing while recognizing the complex global supply chains that make robust US manufacturing possible."
- Within these supply chains AF&PA would like to see truck weight limits increased on federal highways and service improvements on freight rail systems. The group also wants to see "the elimination of both tariff and non-tariff barriers" in international trade and maintain trade agreements that offer economic benefits to their industry.
Like most major industry trade associations AF&PA has said it looks forward to working with Congress and the Trump administration. Based on the turbulent start to the year, and conflicting views that Trump has expressed in the past, the reality of this may be more complicated.
While the Environmental Protection Agency's outgoing administrator recently defended the agency's regulatory role, her potential successor has expressed an interest in rolling back regulations that he sees as burdensome for businesses. On this front, as well as tax reform, AF&PA's general priorities may align well with those of the next administration. Though when it comes to trade agreements Trump has been very critical and the effect that potential changes could have on global commodity markets for paper products or others remain uncertain.
Recovery rates for paper have continued an upward climb, reaching a record high of 66.8% in 2015 on their way toward the AF&PA's goal of 70% by 2020. At the same time, changing consumer habits have affected the industry and a federal commodity check-off program has been established to stabilize the material's place in the market through creative advertising campaigns and other efforts. On a local level some bag bans or fees have also been including paper products, adding yet another layer of government advocacy for the group in the year ahead.