America’s loggers will have an opportunity to receive much needed assistance to offset losses experienced due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, which passed by a bi-partisan vote in both the House and Senate, includes language appropriating $200 million in funding for logging and log trucking businesses who saw a greater than 10% loss in revenues from January 1 through December 1, 2020 related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as compared to revenues for the same period in 2019.
Members of Congress recognized the important role the timber harvesting industry plays in the U.S. economy by including both logging and log hauling businesses in the COVID-19 relief package. Logging and log hauling businesses were deemed to be essential service providers, but have struggled with making fixed cost payments as a result of reduced markets for the unrefined forest products they produce.
According to American Loggers Council, many logging companies experienced severe losses when lumber and paper mills across the country reduced or ceased production in response to drops in demand. Nationwide production curtailments have led to lower prices for log delivery to mills. Virtually all raw material delivered to mills by loggers and truckers have experienced price drops greater than 5% in 2020 compared to 2019. According to a third-party analysis by Forests2Market, a 6.7% (21.4 million tons) reduction in nationwide wood consumption reduced wood prices and generated a $1.83 billion (-13%) loss in revenue.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) first secured logger relief funds in draft legislation released in December by a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress. Her provision built upon the “Loggers Relief Act” that Sen. Collins and Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC) sponsored earlier this year. Ultimately, Collins’ provision was retained in the final COVID relief package passed by Congress this week.
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