JACKSONVILLE, NC (WNCT) — A major North Carolina industry is getting a lifeline from the federal government’s $900 billion COVID relief measure. 9 On Your Side followed the struggles our state’s loggers have faced since the start of the pandemic.
One timber company owner tells WNCT he’s hopeful with help on the way for his beloved industry.
Bobby Goodson has been working through the pandemic but says everyone involved in the timber industry is feeling COVID impact. Goodson is a 4th generation logger. He worked with members of Congress to make sure his industry was included in last month’s relief bill.
“Meeting a need and it’s instant gratification because we are accomplishing something every day and it’s just something I love to do, I want to keep doing it. But we got to make a living out of it. I gotta be able to pay the people I owe. That’s the reason I got involved,” said Bobby Goodson, All Terrain Logging Inc.
The COVID relief measure includes $200 million for U.S. loggers. Their national advocacy group is now working with the agriculture department on how to get the money where it’s needed.
“The bill will be very helpful to those loggers in need. More importantly, almost it’s a statement from the congress and the President to recognize the importance and value of loggers to the United States. This the first time in history that the loggers received relief dollars,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Carolina Loggers Association.
Goodson’s main message is that loggers are farmers. He’s glad to see all types of farmers getting the help they need.
NORTH CAROLINA (WNCT) Billions of dollars from North Carolina’s wood economy are at risk due to the pandemic. Lawmakers in our state are working to make sure the damage is minimal.
Lawmakers from our state, as well as two from Maine and Minnesota, have come together to present what’s called the “Loggers Relief Act”.
This bipartisan effort would establish a new program at the USDA.
It would provide direct payments to logging businesses that can demonstrate they’ve experienced significant economic hardship compared to previous years.
Under the CARES Act, congress provided 300-million dollars to the fishing industry and billions more for agriculturalists. Log advocates here in our state hope they’re next.
“It’s such a capital intensive business. They run on 2% and 3% margins. So on a good year this is a challenging business and a bad year is crippling and this literally puts the entire wood supply chain at risk,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Carolina Loggers Association.
Due to the pandemic, North Carolina’s $33.6 billion dollar wood economy has seen up to a 35% reduction in production.
This results in a nearly $140 million economic loss over two quarters. Smith tells 9 On Your Side it’s comforting to know that help could one day be on the way.
“It provides some level of hope to know there’s some kind of relief that’s going to come to help out loggers in this state. That’s critical. They just do their job day in and day out to bring us the products that we just talked about. We need to help them like we have helped our farmers and our fishermen,” said Smith.
Logging is the most dangerous job per capita in the US.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The Carolina Loggers Association is taking to social media.
The group wants to spread awareness about the safety and impact of their jobs in North Carolina during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The North Carolina wood economy impacts 33.6 billion dollars here in the state. The association is making sure workers in this industry are taken care of.
“Logging is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. They put their lives on the line on a daily basis. Now they have to worry about something they can’t see and that’s what we want to protect them from and there are easy things they can do to prevent from getting it but they have to be done,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Carolina Loggers Association.
The wood industry provides many of the essential items we use day to day like toilet paper, printer paper, disinfecting wipes, and even some much needed medical supplies.
Here in North Carolina, there are more than 600 family-owned logging businesses that employ over 3,000 people.
“Our priority number one is to keep our loggers safe and priority number two is to keep the wood economy going in North Carolina. Without the loggers, the mills don’t operate we can’t provide the essential products that are needed by the consuming public and the medical field,” said Smith.
The association created a social media campaign encouraging loggers in the state and everywhere to not carpool to work and to
Loggers are considered essential employees here in the State of North Carolina and without them, the wood needed to make many important household products wouldn’t be available.