The Carolina Loggers Association has joined the national effort seeking a $2.5 billion federal relief package for loggers and log trucking companies due to Covid-19. Rural communities across the U.S. are feeling the substantial economic impacts, and we need assistance. In short, America’s loggers harvest the wood the mills depend on. That supply chain is brittle and critical to keeping this country’s $300 billion wood economy from stalling. Consumers depend on the products made from wood, like toilet paper, boxes, sanitized wipes and medical supplies. It’s urgent we keep these items in stock at local retail stores.

In North Carolina, the Carolina Loggers Association worked to make sure Carolina loggers were deemed essential as businesses started closing statewide. The increased demand for essential goods made from wood fiber was quickly and dramatically offset by large declines in demand for lumber as new home construction and exports pulled back.

How bad is it?

Our relief request to Congress to support our loggers and log trucking companies is the first in history. That’s despite other sectors like farming and fishing receiving support for decades.

The results of a statewide survey indicate that production is down 30 to 35 percent, which is a conservative estimate. Why is that number so significant?  One word: Margins. Logging operations inNorth Carolina run on a typical 2 to 3 percent margin while carrying debt loads in the millions. In good times, there is no room for error. Generations of families keep logging because most of them grew up around the business. They love it and operate their businesses efficiently. Prior to Covid-19, few outside of the logging community were knocking on the door to join what is considered the most dangerous job in the U.S. on a per capita basis.

Let’s look at this in terms of dollars. Per the research of N.C. State’s Dr. Rajan Parajuli, North Carolina’s logging industry estimates $139.6 million total economic loss over two quarters.

Even more concerning is the prediction that more severe impacts are yet to come in North Carolina, according to a survey of loggers across the country. The alarming result is an entire logging ecosystem that’s fragile beyond just revenue losses, such as layoffs, loss of clients, and an inability to plan or invest in the future. The industry is contracting. Yet, rural communities across the state and the $33.6 billion North Carolina wood economy depend on loggers.

How do we prevent further damage risking the supply chain?

The national American Loggers Council, which includes the CLA, has coalesced around a proposal directing federal assistance to both professional timber harvesting businesses and log trucking businesses.

Under this proposal, $2.5 billion would be reserved for contractors that harvested/delivered wood to various mills across the country in 2019 who apply for low interest loans/grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The goal is to continue business operations for the next 12 months while markets attempt to recover, much like the financial Covid-19 assistance already given to producers of agricultural and seafood commodities.

If a company that applies for and receives the funding proves their revenues or volume delivered are down 10 percent or more from 2019, the funds will be treated as a grant and forgiven. If company revenues are down less than 10 percent than what they declared in 2019, the funds will become a low interest loan to be repaid.

The Carolina Loggers Association launched this initiative to support our loggers during this unprecedented time. This effort has spurred a national coalition gaining support of Congressional Senate and House offices across the U.S.

We’re calling on Congress to invest in the loggers like they have for our fellow farmers and fishermen. The investment will help ensure that this country’s $300 billion wood economy keeps progressing and that the supply chain stays intact.  

Without the loggers, that stops.

Ewell Smith,

Executive Director, Carolina Loggers Association

(504) 884-4585

[email protected]

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.