Collins, Golden announce $200M to help loggers, timber haulers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine announced that $200 million is now available for logging and log hauling businesses that have been seriously impacted by the pandemic.

The funding was provided through the Loggers Relief Act, which Collins and Golden co-authored and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine co-sponsored last year. Collins secured $200 million for logger relief in the final COVID-19 relief package that was signed into law in December.

Following the bill’s passage, the Maine Delegation led efforts to push USDA to expedite the distribution of this funding. In February, Collins and Golden led a group of 19 of their colleagues, including King and Pingree, in writing to Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea. In April, the Maine Delegation wrote to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to urge him to swiftly disburse the logger relief funding. Collins also raised this issue at an Appropriations hearing with Secretary Vilsack last month.

“Throughout Maine’s history, our forest products industry has supported good-paying jobs, driven local economies, and strengthened rural communities,” said Collins. “Loggers were already facing significant headwinds due to a changing 21st century economy and unfair trade practices, as well as the explosion at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay and the shutdown of the #9 paper machine and biomass boiler at Sappi in Westbrook. COVID-19 only compounded these challenges. That’s why I worked to secure $200 million in the COVID-19 emergency relief package to provide critical financial assistance to the skilled professionals who work in this industry to help them get through this difficult period. I am pleased that, following our advocacy, this much-needed support for Maine’s family logging and log hauling businesses is now on the way.”

“Timber harvesters have been hit with a number of challenges in the past few years but they continue to work hard to provide the wood fiber that is critical to Maine’s mills,” said Golden. “Understanding the economic pressures that loggers face, Senator Collins and I worked together to create this emergency relief program targeted specifically to loggers and log haulers. Now that the USDA is ready to disperse these funds, our offices are available to help constituents navigate the application process.”  

“The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic fallout have touched every facet of the U.S. economy – and Maine’s forest industry is unfortunately not immune to this crisis,” said King. “Generations of loggers have spent their lifetimes powering our state’s economy while providing for their families, which is why it is so important to protect and sustain this historic industry. I joined my colleagues near the beginning of the pandemic to introduce legislation to provide assistance to loggers and timber harvesters, and now I’m pleased to join my colleagues in delivering these critical funds directly to the hardworking folks that need them. The industry has supported rural Maine families and communities for hundreds of years, and it’s imperative that foresters have the resources to continue building this legacy into the future.”

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

“This a historic first for timber harvesters and haulers here in Maine and across the United States, who will finally be able to access relief funds designated specifically for their industry.” Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, said. “This has never happened in our nation’s history until now, and we want to thank U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden for leading the effort to secure this aid on behalf of hard-working small family businesses in the industry here in Maine, and U.S. Sen. Angus King and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for joining that effort. We would also like to offer a special thanks to U.S. Sen. Collins for her persistence in urging that these funds be disbursed as quickly as possible.”

Paper mills drastically slashed output or shut down their operations altogether during the pandemic – which the American Loggers Council estimates caused a reduction of $1.83 billion (or 13 percent) in the value of logger-delivered wood. 

Timber harvesting and hauling businesses are eligible to apply for the $200 million available in relief funding if they experienced at least a 10 percent loss in revenue from Jan. 1, 2020, through December 2020, as compared to the same timeframe in 2019. These direct payments will be equal to 10 percent of their gross revenue from 2019, with the funds to be used for operating expenses, including payroll. 

Maine’s logging industry is a linchpin of the state’s economy, generating an estimated $619 million in economic output, and providing $342 million in income to around 9,000 Mainers, most of whom live in rural communities.

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