NC loggers struggling as they wait for COVID relief money

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NORTH CAROLINA (WNCT) — Loggers across North Carolina have seen major hits to their productions during the pandemic. Now, many are looking for support to keep their businesses running.

A relief act was put into law to help fund some of the losses loggers have seen over the last year. However, loggers and politicians alike are banding together to make sure those funds get distributed into the right hands.

“The USDA has a process that they go through, a rule-making process. That’s a long tedious process,” said Ewell Smith, the Executive Director of the Carolina Loggers Association.

That process causing a holt on the distribution of funds to loggers in North Carolina. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations act were written into law at the end of 2020. Now, the logging business is looking for when it can expect to receive the $200 million promised.

“For every single day that goes by it could mean the difference between a logger staying in the business or getting out of the business.”

Ewell Smith is the Executive Director for the Carolina Loggers’ Association. CLA is a non-profit that works to make sure loggers are in the loop about developments in the industry. Smith says these workers provide many services to consumers.

“Our loggers put their lives on the line every single day to bring you and me and consumers across the nation products that we use on a daily basis,” said Smith. “It is literally the most dangerous job in the United States on a per capita basis.”

Members of North Carolina’s congress have now presented a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging that these funds be released.

“We need to get that funding out of congress, out of the government, and into the hands of the loggers on the ground.”

Smith noting that these are real people being affected.

“These are small family-owned businesses and these small family-owned businesses keep these rural communities going,” said Smith.

Click here to read the letter sent to the USDA from North Carolina’s Legislature.

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