To demonstrate the importance of the men and women who work every day in the woods, and raise awareness of the declining logging workforce, John Deere and a group of loggers traveled to Capitol Hill February 7-9 and met with elected officials to discuss key issues facing the U.S. forestry industry. Loggers in attendance included: Bob Luoto, Cross & Crown, Inc., from Carlton, Ore.; Paul Byrd, TW Byrd’s Sons, from Branford, Fla.; and Peter Wood, Wood Forest Products, from Canyon, Minn.
The group had a full schedule while in Washington, D.C., meeting with a number of officials on topics including regulatory processes, rulemakings, deficits, government spending and the 2012 elections. As a result of their efforts, Luoto had the opportunity to testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on February 16 to raise awareness of the plight of the U.S. logging industry.
“We feel this trip was a successful step in making loggers’ voices heard and raising Congressional awareness of the challenges loggers face and the benefits they provide our country,” said Candace Schnoor, Director of Public Affairs, John Deere Construction and Forestry.
“Bob Luoto’s strong testimony was an excellent way to keep the dialogue flowing so that these issues continue to be top-of-mind. John Deere remains dedicated to supporting professional loggers like Bob and their vital role in helping us use and protect our nation’s extraordinary forest resources.”
During the meetings on Capitol Hill, the group called on Congress to take action on key issues to protect the logging industry, and encourage dialogue between members of Congress and state and regional logger constituents, such as the American Loggers Council, to provide regular input on all forestry related matters.
One simple, yet important step John Deere and loggers urged Congress to enact is the Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act (S 1369, HR 2541). Its passage would free U.S. loggers from the risk of unnecessary permitting requirements imposed through a recent court interpretation.
Another key issue facing loggers today is the need to increase gross vehicle truck weights on interstate highways. This would help increase logger productivity and profitability, conserve fuel, and enhance safety through reduced congestion.
“Our nation’s professional loggers have been hit hard by tough economic times and are working to raise awareness of their plight in Washington, D.C. and Statehouses,” said Schnoor. “In light of these challenges, it’s critical – now more than ever – for everyone with an interest in the future of our professional loggers to unite to protect them. John Deere will continue supporting their advocacy efforts and partner with them to ignite positive change and reinstate growth in the forestry sector.”