Tillis, Burr, Butterfield, Rouzer, And Murphy Urge USDA To Distribute COVID Relief Funding To NC Timber Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C – This week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) and Representatives G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-01), David Rouzer (R-NC-07), and Gregory Murphy, M.D. (R-NC-03) sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging the distribution of $200 million provided in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act for relief to the timber harvesting and hauling industry.

“While we were pleased to learn “timber harvesting and hauling” will be included in the “USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers” program, three months have already passed since the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed into law. During those three months, many of our loggers and haulers continued to deal with the economic challenges created by the ongoing pandemic,” wrote the Members. “Sadly, some have made the hard decision to cease operations. Any further delay in distributing relief dollars, will only push the industry further to the brink, threatening the survival of hundreds of logging and hauling businesses across North Carolina and the rural communities they support.”

The Members continued, “We urge you to use all available tools to provide relief for timber harvesters and haulers as expeditiously as possible. Should you identify any hurdles that impede your ability to distribute relief quickly, please let us know so that we may be of assistance in resolving them. Additionally, in reply to this letter, we respectfully request you include an expected timeline for the release of funds for timber harvesting and hauling relief.”

“Since the very outset of the pandemic, loggers in North Carolina and across America have been essential to keeping the U.S. economy going,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director, Carolina Loggers Association. “Putting their lives on the line every day, they supply the critical wood fiber needed to make toilet paper, masks, boxes, lumber, etc. that consumers use. With so many logging operations impacted by Covid, this funding is crucial to keep the economy moving forward.”

Read full letter here.