"Given the fact that wool, cut flowers, aloe leaves, and upland cotton are included in the USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) it is a reasonable request to ask that timber and logging be covered under the program as well.
WASHINGTON (PRWEB) September 01, 2020
Countless businesses across the spectrum of industries have been impacted by COVID-19 and now can tell stories about how government assistance rescued them from the brink of collapse; but there are some stories left untold.
A recent analysis generated for the American Loggers Council (ALC) shows that this year’s decrease in raw wood material consumption has led to a $1.83 billion reduction in the value of logger/trucker-delivered wood. The report, conducted by the analytics firm Forests2Market, found that raw wood material consumption between January-July 2020 was 6.7% less than the same period in 2019 – dropping 21.4 million tons of material. This resulted in a 13% reduction ($1.83 billion) in value of the delivered wood.
While Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have provided funding for numerous agricultural categories, they have not yet classified timber within the category that qualifies for COVID-19 assistance. According to 7 U.S.C§1518.; timber and forest are described as an agricultural commodity along with fruits, vegetables, and other common agricultural goods.(7 U.S.C Section 1518) Danny Dructor, Executive Vice-President of the American Loggers Council, stated that, “Given the fact that wool, cut flowers, aloe leaves, and upland cotton are included in the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) it is a reasonable request to ask that timber and logging be covered under the program as well.”
The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) received $16 billion to provide direct support to certain agricultural producers based on actual losses where prices and market supply chains have been affected. The program will assist producers with additional adjustments and changes in marketing costs that result from oversaturated markets and lack of demand for the 2020 marketing year as a result of COVID-19.
The ALC created SaveOurLoggers.com as a new website to highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the logging and wood products industry. The website features testimonial stories and videos directly from those who have experienced difficult circumstances.
The current conditions loggers are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic have left them in dire economic straits. Many loggers have shared their stories of how COVID-19 is affecting their businesses on SaveOurLoggers.com.(Logger Stories)
Bobby Goodson, star of the Discovery Channel’s hit show Swamp Loggers, describes how, as a fourth generation logger with over 35 years in the business, his company has never experienced a situation as threatening to their existence as an industry as during the COVID-19 pandemic. He describes how logging is essentially farming with harvesting trees as an agricultural commodity.
Dale Heil of Stratford, Wisconsin gives one example of how the pandemic is bleeding out a vital American industry, “The closing of the Verso mill caused by Covid 19 took away 70 percent of my market.”
Justin Yale of Gwinn, Michigan, who has provided trucking services for the logging industry for ten years, gives further insight into the peril the pandemic has sent the industry into, “I provide trucking services to the raw timber product producers. Tonnage hauled so far this year is down 72% from this time last year.”
Without assistance from the CFAP program loggers have turned to Congress and the Administration seeking help from the next COVID relief package through the Logger Relief Act.
Bipartisan Logger Relief bills were introduced in the Senate (S.4233) by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), and in the House (H.R. 7690) by Representative Jared Golden (D-ME) and Representative David Rouzer (R-NC). Specifically, the bills would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make economic relief payments to logging and log trucking businesses who experienced losses of greater than 10% in the first two quarters of 2020 (as compared to 2019). The program would be similar to others already enacted by Congress for agricultural producers such as CFAP. Members of Congress from 13 states have co-sponsored the Logger Relief Act.