Louisiana has lost half its loggers amid downturn, state's timber industry hampered by still-sluggish economy, convention learns

LOS ANGELES , October 4, 2012 () – Louisiana has lost about half its loggers since the U.S. economy nosedived, and the slow, tentative recovery of the housing market continues to hamper the state’s timber industry, a leading executive told the Louisiana Forestry Association Annual Meeting this week, the Town Talk reported on Oct. 4

Louisiana Forestry Association Executive Director Buck Vandersteen told delegates at the Marksville, Louisiana, event it was “scary” for the U.S. to have the lowest interest rates for a 30-year mortgage since World War II, with no correlating boom in the housing market.

With loggers especially hard-hit, Vandersteen said the best the survivors can do is try to “keep their heads above water,” the Town Talk reported.

On the other hand, with so many industry jobs and loggers gone during the recession, any sudden uplift in demand could bring its own set of supply chain problems, Vandersteen noted.

On the upside, he said, landowners continue to plant trees, and the state’s forested area is growing; Louisiana’s forests are producing 30% more wood than the volume being harvested or dying off.

The state’s landowners, many of them small, 40-acre “mom and pop” operations, are on the lookout for new markets for timber, with some excitement brewing about the potential of bioenergy and biofuels for forest and wood products, Vandersteen noted.

However, whatever promise renewable fuels might bring is uncertain and Vandersteen stressed the continuing importance of traditional timber markets, most notably construction, and in restoring consumer confidence in the U.S. economy so the housing market gets back on track.

The two-day LFA Annual Meeting, which had to be rescheduled from August because of Hurricane Isaac, ends today.

The primary source of this article is the Town Talk, Alexandria, Louisiana, Oct. 4, 2012.

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