$ 200 million in relief funds now available for loggers affected by the pandemic

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Timber harvesting and hauling companies are eligible to apply for the $ 200 million available in relief funding if they have experienced a loss of income of at least 10 percent

WASHINGTON, DC, United States – Maine’s forest industry, which members of the Maine delegation call “the backbone of the state economy,” now in a position to get much-needed relief from hardship financial consequences caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the $ 200 million federal funding that was secured by Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Representative Jared Golden, D-Maine, in the COVID-19 relief plan that was signed in December, it It took months of work to push the US Department of Agriculture to finalize the program and the application process, the Golden and Collins offices said.

The Loggers Relief Act, which was drafted by Collins and Golden and co-sponsored by Senator Angus King, I-Maine, and Representative Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, establishes a new USDA program to provide direct payments to harvest Of wood. and transport companies which suffered a loss of revenue of at least 10% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Direct payments will equal 10% of their gross income from 2019, with funds to be used for operating expenses, including payroll, Golden and Collins offices, explained in a statement.

The American Loggers Council estimates that cutting production and shutting down operations at paper mills throughout the pandemic resulted in a reduction of $ 1.83 million, or 13%, in the value of lumber delivered by loggers.

At a press conference announcing the program’s opening on Tuesday with Dana Duran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, Golden said the program was historic.

“This is the first time in the history of forest management in the United States that the federal government has stepped in to help the lumber industry and recognize it as an agricultural product… so it’s a big problem,” said Golden. “This is historic action by the federal government, but more importantly, it will provide useful and… much needed help to loggers across the country. “

Collins said that even before COVID, loggers faced significant challenges “due to the changing 21st century economy and unfair trade practices”, and the pandemic has only made those challenges worse. .

“The past 18 months have arguably been the most difficult time for Maine harvesters and lumber haulers in our state’s history,” Doran said in a statement Tuesday. “Even despite record lumber prices last spring, loggers and truckers in Maine were still on their own as their colleagues in agriculture and fishing received a lifeline. The Loggers Relief Act is truly historic and will help one of Maine’s heritage industries when they need it most.

In Maine, the forestry industry generates about $ 619 million, providing $ 342 million in revenue to about 9,000 Mainers, according to the Golden and Collins offices.

Applications will be accepted from July 22. Click here for more information on how to apply.

More statements about the program:

“Throughout Maine’s history, our forest products industry has supported well-paying jobs, boosted local economies and strengthened rural communities. Loggers were already facing significant headwinds due to the changing economy of the 21st century and unfair trade practices, as well as the explosion of the Androscoggin factory in Jay and the closure of the Sappi’s # 9 paper machine and biomass boiler in Westbrook. COVID-19 has only compounded these challenges. This is why I have worked to secure $ 200 million in the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Program to provide essential financial assistance to skilled professionals who work in this industry to help them get through this difficult time. I am happy that as a result of our advocacy, this much-needed support for family-owned logging and logging businesses in Maine is now underway.

“Log harvesters have faced a number of challenges in recent years, but they continue to work hard to provide essential wood fiber to mills in Maine. Understanding the economic pressures that loggers face, Senator Collins and I worked together to create this emergency relief program aimed specifically at loggers and log hauliers. Now that the USDA is ready to distribute these funds, our offices are available to help voters navigate the nomination process. “

“The coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic fallout have affected all facets of the US economy – and Maine’s forest industry is unfortunately not immune to this crisis. Generations of loggers have spent their lives fueling our state’s economy while providing for their families, which is why it is so important to protect and support this historic industry. I joined my colleagues at the start of the pandemic to introduce legislation to provide assistance to loggers and loggers, and I am now happy to join my colleagues in providing these essential funds directly to workers in need. . The industry has supported rural Maine families and communities for hundreds of years, and it is imperative that foresters have the resources to continue to build this legacy into the future.

“While Maine’s forest products sector remains strong, our loggers need this economic boost to maintain their competitive edge in the face of plant closures and the fallout from COVID-19. I am proud to have advocated for this emergency financial assistance of $ 200 million and I encourage eligible logging and logging companies to apply for these funds as soon as possible. Thanks to the efforts of the Maine delegation, help is now on its way!

“This is a historic first for loggers and hauliers here in Maine and across the United States, who will finally be able to access relief funds specifically dedicated to their industry. This has never happened in our country’s history so far, and we would like to thank US Senator Susan Collins and US Representative Jared Golden for leading the effort to get this help on behalf of small businesses. families who work hard in the industry here in Maine, and Senator Angus King and United States Representative Chellie Pingree for joining this effort. We would also like to especially thank Senator Collins for her persistence in demanding that these funds be disbursed as quickly as possible. “

This story will be updated.



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