AUGUSTA – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine today released results of a survey of its members showing Maine logging companies have seen cost increases averaging 24 percent for parts, equipment, services, and fuel since January 2020.
The PLC asked members to report their increase in costs for 20 goods and services that are vital to logging operations over the period of January 2020 to January 2022. Loggers reported increases ranging from 17-30 percent, with truck and equipment insurance the lowest at 17 percent while oil and lubricants saw the highest increase at 30 percent. Many of the costliest items on the list including heavy equipment tires rose 24-26 percent in cost.
“While all Americans and industries are facing higher costs, it is clear that Maine logging companies are being hit harder than many at a time when most are already struggling with difficult markets and wood prices that are not keeping pace with rising expenses,” Dana Doran, Executive Director of the PLC, said. “Now, spiking energy costs are projected to add to even more to the price of most goods and services in the coming months, worsening an already critical situation.”
Maine’s timber harvesters and haulers were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects. Most Maine logging contractors who are members of the PLC, the state’s trade association for timber harvesters and haulers, reported a 30-40 percent reduction in wood markets in 2020 alone. Many suffered severe revenue losses, layoffs, loss of clients, reduced productivity, and inability to plan for the future. The loss of the Pixelle Specialty Solutions pulp mill in Jay to an explosion in April 2020 worsened an already deteriorating economic storm for most in the industry.
2021 saw some market improvement for contractors, but not enough to offset increased costs and other challenges including a shortage of qualified truck drivers, equipment operators, and other workers. Many PLC contractors are reporting they expect their wood production to decrease over the next year as a result.
The survey findings may be viewed at: https://maineloggers.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Inflation-Member-Survey-2022-2.pdf
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8.1 billion annually. Logging contributed an estimated $619 million to the state economy in 2017.
Founded in 1995 with a handful of members who were concerned about the future of the industry, the PLC has grown steadily to become a statewide trade association which provides independent logging contractors a voice in the rapidly changing forest products industry. Board membership consists of only loggers, making it an organization that is run by loggers on behalf of loggers. PLC members are responsible for cutting 75 percent of the timber that is harvested from Maine’s forests annually.