WASHINGTON – Hardwood industry trade association The Hardwood Federation has issued several policy proposals to U.S. Senate leaders to gain support for workers and companies in the hardwood sector during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The U.S. hardwood industry is a fully integrated industry from logging to manufacturing finished consumer goods including flooring, cabinets and moldings,” the federation wrote to U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer. “The tissue and paper supplies made of residual chips and dust from our mills and the industrial mats, shipping pallets and railway ties made from hardwood lumber are crucial to the significant economic recovery we face.
“Like so many American industry sectors, we have been hit hard by the devastation caused by the COVID-19 virus, with many companies reporting declines of 50% and more,” the letter continued. “Coming so closely on the heels of the significant harm done to our companies as a result of the U.S.-China trade dispute, many are seriously concerned about their future viability.”
While the letter voiced appreciation for the financial support the U.S. government has already provided to businesses, including the Paycheck Protection Program, it letter went on to suggest several additional measures that can be taken in the future to protect workers and the industry. These include:
- Extending liability protections to businesses bringing workers back post-COVID-19;
- Directing the Small Business Administration to reverse its decision to limit Economic Injury Disaster Loans to $150,000. Existing law authorizes EIDL loans of up to $2 million which is essential to industry members.
- Extending a sustainable building tax credit to building and construction projects including U.S. wood products used in these projects.
- Increasing government purchases of U.S. wood products, including structural and finished products, for federal building and transportation projects.
- Funding necessary research to approve increased use of U.S. hardwoods in U.S. military truck beds, replacing imported tropical woods.
- Providing funding to research to increase domestic and international consumer demand for U.S. hardwood products including the environmental and home health benefits of hardwood product use.
“Thank you for your attention to this distressing situation,” the letter concluded. “The industry welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress and the administration to implement measures that will sustain the U.S. hardwood industry through these troubled times.”