Louisiana timber industry struggling - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Louisiana timber industry struggling

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By Lee Peck - bio | email

ROSEPINE, LA (KPLC) - It's no secret how we got here. The economic downturn and dried up housing market have led to tough times for the Louisiana timber industry.

At a meeting Monday night in Rosepine the industry's major players -- loggers, haulers, cutters and paper mill workers -- came to voice concerns.

This what they had to say:

"Fuel costs is killing me and it's killing the people that work for me."

"We know in 2006, we were building about 1.7 million houses a year and if you look at last year we were building about 600,000 that's almost a 1/3."

"We can't raise our prices just because something goes up."

"Don't let any paper mills shut down and send our manufacturing jobs in Louisiana. That will help us keep working."

State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain was there to listen. "My family of farmers, we've been in the farming and timber industry for generations and understand what's going on," said Strain. 

Also there was State Senator John Smith, who says despite the state's 1.3 billion dollar shortfall, he'll lobby for tax incentives during the upcoming legislative session.

"We are going to be there fighting to make certain we get whatever breaks we can to stimulate if you will our own economy... It's that important to us," said Sen. Smith, (D) District 30.  

And while details are still being worked out for Louisiana's share of the economic stimulus, we do know dollars are set aside for renewable energy -- one of the few industries that keep calling on Louisiana loggers when others have stopped.

"And they ask do we have the loggers out there who can produce the natural resource and get it to the plant. I say how many would you like and when would you like them," Buck Vandersteen, with LFA Executive Director.  

Both Strain and Smith say they'll take all the suggestions and present them to Governor Bobby Jindal and his team to devise a state wide plan to help the timber industry.

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