May 5, 2014
The American Loggers Council (ALC) has been making trips to Washington D.C. since practically the beginning of the organization. Shortly after the founding of the ALC it was decided to have the Spring Board of Directors Meeting held annually in Washington D.C. to give members the opportunity to visit with their elected officials and relevant agency officials on issues that impact their businesses prior to attending the board meeting.
Over the years, the meetings that ALC members have had with elected and agency officials have ranged from upbeat, positive, and productive to let’s just say ….. “Less than productive” to be kind and most anything in between. I remember a meeting we had one year with an elected official’s staffer where we must have been keeping her from something since she spent more time looking at her watch than paying attention to what we were trying to convey to her. Thankfully over the years the visits have been much more productive than that particular instance. After returning from this year’s trip to D.C. I would have to say that our meetings were of the positive and productive variety.
I believe we are making progress with our visits to D.C. in the sense that we are being asked by officials to testify before Congress on issues that affect the timber industry, we’re building relationships with Agency officials, and with elected officials and their staffs. It is becoming apparent, that when there is an issue that impacts the timber harvesting profession in this country, that the American Loggers Council is the go to organization to get a loggers perspective on said issue.
This year’s meeting started off with a brief update on timber tax issues from Dan Sakura of NAFO followed by a briefing of the issues that ALC members would take with them on their Hill visits. Following the morning briefing ALC members made well over 100 visits to their elected and agency officials over the course of the next day and a half. I would like to thank those sponsors that made the trip to D.C. to attend and participate in Hill visits with ALC members. I found it very beneficial to have representatives from two of the largest equipment manufacturers in the world to attend Hill visits with us. As loggers we tend to get “tunnel vision” on an issue and to get the perspective of the OEM’s was very helpful not only for myself but for the staffers that we were talking with during those visits. It also gave those sponsors an opportunity to see first-hand what the ALC does on the political and legislative front for its members.
Those sponsors with attendees were: Caterpillar – Joe Allen, Chip Burroughs, and Mike Duncan; John Deere-Kelly Granatier, Tom Trone, Craig McBeth, and Collis Jones; Southern Loggers Cooperative- Bill Jones;
In addition to Hill visits, the ALC held a session with numerous speakers discussing various topics of importance to its members.
Those speakers in attendance were: Jim Pena- USFS – discussing Farm Bill and timber sale program issues; Daniel Cassidy- USDA-discussing research and education in biobased products; Bill Imbergamo- FFRC- discussing Federal Timber Sale Program, NEPA reform, and wildfire funding; Luke Loy- USDOT- FMCSA discussing truck weight and CSA issues; Caitlin Rayman- USDOT-FHA -discussing the Truck Size and Weight Study; Tom Trone- John Deere- discussing telematics in today’s new forestry equipment.
The ALC Spring Fly In and Board of Directors Meeting was a success with a record number of members attending both the Fly In as well as the Board meeting. In addition the ALC was asked to testify on a package of four bills dealing with NEPA following the meeting. We have also gained some much needed traction on the Youth Careers in Logging issue.
While the wheels of Congress oftentimes move at a snail’s pace compared to the production that we all experience on our jobs, it is imperative that we keep pushing the process along to ensure that we in the timber harvesting industry do not become the latest species to be listed as endangered. If you or your state is not represented by the American Loggers Council at the National level, then perhaps it is time for you to consider joining the ranks. When we are all pulling together towards a common goal, there isn’t anything that cannot be accomplished.
Until next time
Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.
The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.