By Rich Christianson
WASHINGTON – The American Loggers Council (ALC) has launched the Save Our Loggers public relations campaign aimed at drawing attention to the impact COVID-19 has had on the logging industry.
At the heart of ALC’s campaign is the newly created SaveOurLoggers.com. The website highlights the impact COVID-19 has had on the logging the wood products industry, including testimonial videos and stories of members financially challenged by the pandemic. For example, Bobby Goodson, star of Swamp Loggers on the Discovery Channel talks about the need for COVID-19 relief funding in the video below.
The ALC pointed to a study by Forests2Markets indicating that raw wood material consumption dropped 6.7% or 21.4 million tons between January-July 2020 compared to the same period last year. According to the study, this decrease in material consumption translates into a $1.83 billion or 13% reduction in the value of logger/trucker delivered wood.
The ALC noted that while Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided funding for numerous agricultural categories, no action has taken yet to classify timber within the category that qualifies for COVID-19 assistance.
Danny Dructor, executive vice-president of the ALC, said, “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 ALC said $16 billion has been doled out to qualifying agricultural producers through CFAP based on actual losses where prices and market supply chains have been affected. The funding will help producers with additional adjustments and changes in marketing costs that result from oversaturated markets and lack of demand for 2020 because of COVID-19.
In addition to seeking assistance from CFAP, the ALC is supporting The Logger Relief Act, a COVID relief package introduced in the Senate (S.4233) by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), and in the House (H.R. 7690) by Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and Rep. 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.