Collins, Golden Lead Call for Additional Funding for Oversubscribed Loggers Relief Program
Demand from loggers has outpaced original $200 million dedicated to the PATHH program ? More than 350 Maine logging and trucking businesses have received over $12.3 million in relief through the program so far
Washington, February 10, 2022
WASHINGTON —Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) led seven of their colleagues, including Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01), to press House and Senate appropriators to include additional funding for the Pandemic Assistance for Timber Haulers and Harvesters (PATHH) Program in upcoming government funding legislation. The PATHH program, which was introduced by Collins and Golden and signed into law in 2020, has provided emergency relief to timber harvesters and haulers who experienced significant losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The plight of our forest products industry… has had devastating consequences for rural communities across the country that are supported by our loggers, log haulers, and mills,” wrote the lawmakers. “This additional funding will not only provide much needed support for our nation’s forest products industry that has experienced significant financial hardship since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will also fulfill the demand for assistance that was unmet by the program in 2021”
In just over six months, demand for the relief money has exceeded the $200 million in funds originally appropriated. Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Loggers Council estimate an additional $185 million in funding is necessary to address the outstanding need from the industry. Due to the high level of participation from the industry, the agency had to adjust the original benefit formula to a point where in many cases, the amount of financial assistance was reduced to less than half of what the applicant would have been originally eligible for.
Golden and Collins introduced legislation, cosponsored by King and Pingree, to create the PATHH program in 2020. In December 2020, they secured $200 million for the USDA to stand up and fund the program. Following the program’s opening, more than 5,600 applications representing $385 million in needed assistance were submitted.
“Over the past two years, domestic paper mills across the country have drastically lowered output or shut down their operations altogether, which the American Loggers Council projects has led to a reduction of $1.83 billion - a 13 percent loss - in the value of logger-delivered wood,” the lawmakers continued. “By appropriating additional funding for the PATHH program, Congress can ensure that the hard-working men and women of our forest products industry receive the full financial support they need to keep their businesses open.”
Through the program, more than 350 Maine timber harvesting and hauling businesses have received a total of $12,348,389 in COVID-19 relief. Maine’s logging industry is a linchpin of the state’s economy, generating an estimated $619 million in economic output, and providing $342 million in income to around 9,000 Mainers, most of whom live in rural communities.
Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representatives Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Pete Stauber (MN-08) joined the Maine delegation to send the letter.
Read a copy of the letter here.