Governor Mills and DACF Commissioner Beal call on Maine's Congressional Delegation to fight for forestry

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For Immediate Release
July 24, 2020

Governor Mills and DACF Commissioner Beal outline opportunities for Maine's Congressional Delegation to support the forest products industry

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Governor Mills and DACF Commissioner Beal, sent a letter to the Maine Congressional delegation outlining ways to support Maine's forest products industry. DACF is joining the National Association of State Foresters in urging congressional leaders, when assessing options for economic recovery, to ensure that forestry agencies can continue to provide ecological and economic benefits. Forestry contributes billions of dollars to the Maine economy and accounts for one out of every 20 jobs. The letter emphasizes the sector's critical importance to rural communities and focuses on forestry agencies' essential support and expertise.

The full text of the letter is available below:

The Honorable Susan Collins                                                 The Honorable Angus King
United States Senate                                                               United States Senate
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building                                      133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                                          Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Chellie Pingree                                              The Honorable Jared Golden
U.S. House of Representatives                                               U.S. House of Representatives
2162 Rayburn House Office Building                                    1223 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515                                                          Washington, DC 20515

July 22, 2020

Re: Support for Critical State Forestry Needs  

Dear Senators Collins and King, and Representatives Pingree and Golden,

Thank you for your continued support and engagement in the Maine forestry sector. Now, more than ever before, we must work together as state and federal officials to ensure the ongoing success of our natural resource industries. Maine’s forest products industry contributes more than $8 billion to the Maine economy, and one out of every 20 jobs is associated with the forest products sector.[1] Nationwide, privately-owned forestland supports $2.4 million jobs, $98.7 billion in payroll, and $281 billion in timber sales and manufacturing shipments annually. Also, privately-owned forestlands contribute $81.3 billion, or 4.6% of the U.S.’s total manufacturing GDP.[2]

The pandemic has had devastating effects on the nation’s economy, including the Maine forestry sector, and has also negatively impacted the state’s forestry budget. Not only is forestry critical to rural economies, but it is also indispensable to the nation’s economic recovery. State forestry agencies are crucial links in the industry’s supply chain. They provide critical support and expertise to our nation’s emergency response capacity for wildfire and other natural disasters. This support includes playing a central role in the state’s response to COVID-19. In addition, the forestry sector has been dramatically impacted by COVID-19 and needs both technical and financial support to ensure the ability to navigate through market disruptions and other challenges that affect its overall viability.  

The following are recommendations, which I fully endorse, from the National Association of State Foresters for an economic stimulus package to ensure state forestry agencies have the capacity to continue to support the forestry sector, the environment, local jobs, and economic recovery:

Provide $500 Million with Maximum Flexibility for State and Private Forestry

  • Provide supplemental appropriations for State and Private Forestry (S&PF) appropriations or provide block grants to states with dedicated funding for state forestry agencies with three to five years in spending authority. Award funding either directly to the state agency or designated third-party partners (non-governmental organizations, local governments, etc.) approved by the state forester.
  • Provide maximum flexibility for S&PF spending authority or block grant funding to:
    • Allow states to retain employees, determine staffing levels for S&PF programs, and
    • Hire technical assistance foresters to build capacity to jump-start rural economies through forestry activities.

o Focus S&PF dollars where they will provide the most support to the forestry sector, local economies and jobs, and overall economic recovery.

o Waive or reduce state match requirements for three to five years to allow federal program implementation to continue even under state budget shortfalls.

 Stimulate Rural Economies by Supporting Forest Products Supply Chain

  • Support the American Loggers Council’s proposal to provide a loan program for no less than 2.5 billion dollars for contractors who harvested/delivered wood to mills across the country in 2019.

Additionally, my administration is in full support of the Loggers Relief Act, which would establish a new program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide direct payments to timber harvesting and hauling businesses that can demonstrate they have experienced significant economic hardship compared to the previous year.

We appreciate your immediate attention to this vital issue and look forward to discussing these requests with your further.

Governor Janet Mills

Commissioner Amanda E. Beal,  
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

[2] National Association State