The American Loggers Council (ALC) and its affiliated state organizations have asked Congress to support a proposal to provide economic aid to loggers and log truck companies that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council delivered letters to U.S. Representatives and Senators requesting their support for a logger relief program that would provide low-interest loans to family-owned timber harvesting and timber trucking businesses.
Sawmills and other mills that use wood have cut back on buying logs as a result of reduced or lost markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ripple effect has been a reduction in the amount of wood fiber being sourced from the forest by small, family-owned logging and log trucking businesses.
Even if the country’s economy reopens this summer, analysts predict it could take two years for log markets to recover fully. The amount of time would be a significant challenge for loggers and log truckers to survive and continue operating given the reduced demand for logs. With high operating costs, diminished markets and low returns on investments, logging and log trucking capacity throughout the U.S. could be deeply reduced, and new investments in the logging industry may be limited.
“Logging and log hauling were on the initial list of essential services identified at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic at both state and federal levels,” noted ALC executive vice president Danny Dructor in a statement the council issued in early June. “Given the duration of the pandemic and the uncertainty around markets, our members and those we represent are just now beginning to feel the full impact of the pandemic on their businesses, which are necessary to support forest health and provide the raw materials to which every U.S. citizen is dependent upon for their daily standard of living. We sincerely and humbly implore members of Congress to help us with the relief that is needed.”
In order to sustain the forest product supply chain while adjustments are made to adapt to what may very well be a new normal, logging and log trucking businesses are requesting that Congress support a program that offers low-interest loans intended to ensure contractors can have the opportunity to remain in business over the next 12 months and adjust their operations as markets begin to stabilize. The loans could not be used for those items already covered by the Payroll Protection Program or any other federal assistance program that has been made available in previous COVID stimulus legislation.
Tom McAllister, president of the Louisiana Loggers Association, explained the toll the pandemic has taken on small businesses. “Small, three-man crews and one-man hauling operations have lost between 33 percent and 40 percent of their production since the beginning of March,” he said.
The Associated California Loggers estimates that members have lost as much as 13 percent of their income from logging operations.
Loggers in other parts of the U.S. report economic or volume losses ranging from 7.5 percent to 40 percent, according to the ALC.