Washington, D.C – Today, U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Angus King (I-Maine) and U.S. Representatives Jared Golden (D-Maine) and Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) reintroduced the Future Logging Careers Act. This legislation would allow teenage members of logging families to gain experience in the logging trade under parental supervision so they may carry on the family business. The Future Logging Careers Act would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to work in certain mechanized logging operations under parental supervision.
“Idaho’s logging industry has long been a family trade, but current law is hampering its future by preventing young men and women from working in their family’s businesses,” said Risch. “The Future Logging Careers Act would give timber families the same opportunity to pass down their trade that is allotted to family farmers. With the logging industry facing a decline in labor and an aging workforce, we must empower the next generation of loggers who are vital for properly managing our forests, supporting rural economies, and maintaining family businesses. I am proud to introduce this legislation that does just that.”
“Logging has been fundamental to the success of our state for centuries – creating good jobs, supporting working families, and providing essential economic activity across rural areas,” said King. “As a new generation of Maine people consider careers in logging, we should be providing opportunities to explore the exciting field in a safe, managed way. The bipartisan Future Logging Careers Act would give young Maine people the option to jumpstart their career, get invaluable hands-on experience, and begin training by logging with their parents or grandparents. It’s a commonsense effort to strengthen our state’s long forest heritage and expand job opportunities.”
“Family-owned businesses are a tradition of Maine’s forest economy and their ability to pass down the trade to future generations is a priority,” said Golden. “This is a commonsense solution to workforce shortages and to the current law which prevents young Mainers from working in the family business. Our bipartisan bill will allow young Mainers to get an early start learning the family trade and lay the foundation of a good living in the woods.”
“I have the great privilege of representing numerous family-owned logging businesses, that operate on private lands, state forests and in Pennsylvania’s only National Forest, the Allegheny. For years, younger people were able to learn the family business through the guidance and comfort of their own family members,” said Thompson. “This commonsense legislation brings the logging industry in-line with the standards of other agri-businesses and allows the next generation to learn the trade and obtain vital knowledge through hands-on, skills-based learning. I am proud to support this effort.”
Additional cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Congressmen Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
The Future Logging Careers Act has received support from the American Loggers Council and the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho.
“The timber industry is traditionally a multi-generational business where the skills and knowledge are passed on from one generation to the next. This succession process is critical to ensuring that the timber industry infrastructure remains viable to support public and private healthy forest management, rural jobs, wildfire mitigation, and U.S. made forest products. The Future Logging Careers Act will afford the timber industry sector of the agricultural economy the same opportunities and benefits currently extended to the family farm. Workforce development is critical to maintaining the resources necessary to provide the forest management services required to meet the U.S. sustainable healthy forests objectives for today and the future. The American Loggers Council appreciates the bipartisan/bicameral sponsorship of Senator Risch (ID) and Senator King (ME), and Representative Golden (ME) and Representative Thompson (PA), of the Future Logging Careers Act and their continued support of the American timber industry,” said Scott Dane, Executive Director of the American Loggers Council.
“This legislation will extend to logging families the same opportunities that farming families enjoy that allow their 16 and 17 year old family members to work in today’s modern logging equipment. Taking this step will enable logging families to pass on the skills and their businesses to the next generation. This helps ensure the professional, safe, harvesting of the raw material for the wood and paper products we use everyday will continue into the future,” said Shawn Keough, Executive Director of the Associated Logging Contractors of Idaho.