Barr works to protect future of Kentucky bourbon industry

Because most of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky, a bipartisan bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) aims to protect the white oak trees that provide wood for the barrels used to age the whiskey.

Rep. Barr on Sept. 20 introduced the White Oak Resilience Act, H.R. 5582, with four original cosponsors, including lead cosponsor U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), to ensure a sustainable future of American white oaks, which at current consumption rates are expected to start declining in the next 10 to 15 years, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Barr’s staff.

“The White Oak Resilience Act is not just about saving trees; it’s about preserving our heritage, safeguarding biodiversity, and fortifying an industry that is critical to Kentucky’s economy,” Rep. Barr said. “The future of the bourbon industry, which relies on the unique characteristics of white oak barrels, and the future of countless ecosystems are intertwined with the sustainability of the white oak.”

Key provisions in H.R. 5582 range from authorizing the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to actively participate in white oak restoration projects, to harnessing private investment and establishing a white oak restoration fund that would support white oak regeneration on national forests, the summary says.

“I am proud to join Rep. Barr and our colleagues in introducing the White Oak Resilience Act to provide long-term sustainability for our white oak forests,” said Rep. Bera. “This bill is a comprehensive investment in the conservation and restoration activities across several federal land management agencies for white oak trees. I look forward to getting this bill passed into law so we can conserve this critical resource for generations to come.”

The White Oak Initiative endorsed the measure.