Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that $200 million is now available for logging and log hauling businesses that have been seriously impacted by the pandemic. Eligible members of the logging industry can apply on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website HERE.
The funding was provided through the Loggers Relief Act, which Senators Collins and Smith co-authored last year. They 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 Senators led efforts to push USDA to expedite the distribution of this funding. In February, Senators Collins and Smith led a group of 9 of their colleagues in writing to Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea to urge him to swiftly disburse the logger relief funding. Senator 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 Senator 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.”
“The timber industry in Minnesota and across the country was hurting even before the pandemic, and the COVID crisis reduced timber demand even further, forcing many loggers to shut down or greatly reduce operations,” said Senator Smith. “Simply put, Minnesota loggers told me they needed help, and we worked together to develop the Loggers Relief Act. This will help sustain jobs in an important industry. I know better days are ahead for the timber industry in Minnesota and across the country.”
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 January 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.