Woodlot owners need help nowMonday, September 24, 2007
Woodlot owners need help now
Friday, Sept. 14 brought the announcement of yet another mill closure in New Brunswick. Fawcett Industries in Petitcodiac announced an indefinite shutdown. This represents another terrible blow to a community and those that were employed at the mill.
What about the woodlot owners, the small independent contractors, and truckers that produce the wood for these mills from woodlots?
The Fawcett mill in Petitcodiac consumed approximately 77,000 cubic metres of wood from private woodlots with a value of $4.3 million. The bulk of this economic activity was generated in rural areas that surround this mill.
An item that is often lost is that these independent producers that supply the mill are for the most part self-employed. They will not receive EI, they will not get severance packages, and they will not have company pension plans. They are left high and dry!
Our government needs to step up and take action. Premier Graham has stated numerous times, "we are a government of action!"
There are many initiatives under way; the Forestry Task Force, a ministers advisory committee, a wood supply committee. The timelines for action need to be hastened. We need to act now, not in six months, nine months or a year.
Private woodlot owners have suffered the brunt of mill closures in our province. Closures and shutdowns are occurring all around us yet the harvest of Crown timber reached a historic high (5.394 million cubic metres) in 2006-2007. How can this be?
With fewer mills shouldn't we be using less wood?
We are. While the Crown wood harvest increases, private woodlot wood is being displaced to the tune of one million cubic metres since 2003-2004.
We need action now that includes support for the private woodlot sector and the people that earn their livelihood working on private woodlots. As our government, whatever you do, try to come up with something a little better than a one-time drop in the bucket $10 per cubic metre red herring fund, to encourage mills to get out of business. It's an insult to a community whose mill has closed to get such a measly sum of money for such a valuable resource.
Manager, N.B. Federation of Woodlot Owners, Fredericton
Published Monday September 24th, 2007 Times & Transcript
Appeared on page D8