By Danny Dructor
The American Loggers Council has made passing the Future Logging Careers Act a top priority in the 115th United States Congress. We’re very pleased with the bipartisan support it is receiving in both the U.S. House and Senate. This is a credit to the hundreds of loggers who have contacted their representatives in support of the legislation. We need to keep up the calls and emails to Congress. In a moment I’ll tell you how you can get involved.
It’s become clear over the past several weeks that some in the news media, and some who follow ALC’s Facebook page, don’t have a clear understanding of what the Future Logging Careers Act actually does, and what it doesn’t do. For example, a Washington D.C. reporter wrote a story last month attempting to link our bill to a very tragic accident involving an 18-year-old logger in Washington State.
Simply put, the Future Logging Careers Act is intended to give 16- and 17-year-olds hands-on training in mechanized timber harvesting in a safe and legal setting, under parental supervision. The bill is aimed at helping family-owned logging companies that wish to keep their sons and daughters in the profession. The Future Logging Careers Act, as its name suggests, is all about recruiting and retaining the next generation and to help families continue to run professional logging businesses.
The text of the legislation is straightforward. It extends an existing agricultural exemption– now enjoyed by family farmers and ranchers– specifically to family-owned logging companies.
For the purpose of amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, the bill defines logging as “the felling, skidding, yarding, loading and processing of timber by equipment other than manually operated chainsaws and cable skidders; the felling of timber in mechanized operations; the bucking or converting of timber into logs, poles, ties, bolts, pulpwood, chemical wood, excelsior wood, cordwood, fence posts, or similar products; the collecting, skidding, yarding, loading, transporting and unloading of such products in connection with logging; the constructing, repairing and maintaining of roads or camps used in connection with logging; the constructing, repairing, and maintenance of machinery or equipment used in logging; and other work performed in connection with logging.”
Now for what the bill doesn’t do: the Future Logging Careers Act does not permit 16- and 17-year-olds “the manual use of chain saws to fell and process timber and the use of cable skidders to bring the timber to the landing.” Unfortunately, this important point was missed in the news story that misinterpreted our bill.
Safety is an issue that should unite all professional timber harvesters. ALC is deeply committed to promoting safety in the woods, and on the roads, in the hope that someday logging is not included in the annual list of “America’s Most Dangerous Professions.” Nobody wants to put young and inexperienced loggers in dangerous situations. The Future Logging Careers Act is one solution to promote safety for the future, and help young loggers learn the trade in a supervised setting.
The Future Logging Careers Act is gaining support as more members of Congress learn about the bill, and understand why supporting family-owned logging businesses and recruiting and retaining the next generation of loggers are so important. If you haven’t already, contact your House and Senate members and ask them to sponsor and support the bill. You can do this in just two minutes by visiting https://www.votervoice.net/iframes/HFHC/Campaigns/48964/Respond. Together, we can pass this simple measure as one way to strengthen our profession for the future.
Danny Dructor is the Executive Vice President for the American Loggers Council with offices near Hemphill, Texas. The American Loggers Council is a 501 (c)(6) not for profit trade organization representing professional timber harvesters in 32 states across the United States. If you would like to learn more about the ALC, please visit their web site at www.amloggers.com, or contact their office at 409-625-0206.