Since I've been on a somewhat political theme for the last few posts, I thought that I would note that this week is the Hardwood Federation Fly-In.

The Hardwood Federation is an association of associations. Members include the NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association, of course), the NHLA (National Hardwood Lumber Association), the MFMA (Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association), and the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association), to name just a few. If you are a member of any one of these associations, you are also counted as being represented by the Hardwood Federation.

The Hardwood Federation was created to give all related wood industries a greater political presence in Washington. It has an affiliated PAC with a full time lobbyist who has the responsibility of keeping the wood industry's needs in front of Congress. Their agenda is set by the associations they represent, so increasing your activism within the NWFA and other industry associations will give you a greater say on their political activities.

The Fly-In is an annual event, where members of industry come to D.C. and meet with congressional representatives at a series of sponsored meals and meetings on the Hill. The more individuals who attend, the more attention the members of congress will pay to the industry's issues.

In the Fly-In this week, the Federation is focused on four key topics. They are: the protection and funding of the Lacey Act, putting a halt to new regulatory costs on an industry already in recession, encouraging proper management tactics at the USFS and expanding pro-hardwood government procurement policies.

For the latter issue, government-procurement policies, they've already had several major successes. The Federation was the key force behind the March announcement from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that wood should be recognized as a green building material of choice throughout his agency and the Federal Government. They were also instrumental in having the U.S. military change a gym floor specification at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina from bamboo to locally sourced hard maple.

Other green-related issues include addressing the proposed EPA's Boiler MACT regulations, continuing to push to have wood recognized in all federal green building projects as a renewable and sustainable resource, asking legislators to support reform of the U.S. Forest Service and opening up more federal forests to appropriate commercial use, and supporting proposed bills H.R. 2451 and S. 1369, the "Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Acts" to maintain the status of forestry as a nonpoint source of water pollution under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The Hardwood Federation will support your views and your needs in D.C., but only if you support them, as well. Get involved in your association and help identify your business' priorities. Then consider joining us at next year's Fly-In, and making your case directly to your congressional representative.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")