Forum Provides Help For Facing Challenges Of Forestry Business

John Barry Crain, Chaney, John A.  |  4/23/2005 2:22:29 AM

News Release Distributed 02/04/04

WOODWORTH – More than 125 private landowners, loggers and forest industry leaders attended the LSU AgCenter’s Central Louisiana Forestry Forum recently to learn about the challenges facing the industry.

"Landowners do a good job of growing and harvesting trees," said C.A. "Buck" Vandersteen, executive director of the Louisiana Forestry Association, "But the (Louisiana) forest industry is behind neighboring states in adding value to the wood products we produce."

The forest industry is the largest agricultural industry and the second largest manufacturing employer in the state. Last year, the industry returned almost $3.8 billion to the state’s economy.

"Forestry is an economic development group," said Vandersteen, adding, "I challenge you to find a way to add value to the forest products we grow."

Vandersteen also pointed out that the forest industry has been losing jobs for the past few years.

As for growth in the industry, other presentations in the Jan. 27 forum focused on the potential.

Artis and Will Almond, owners of Almond Brothers Lumber and Supply in Coushatta, explained how they have been able to add value and develop an export market for high-grade products sawed from oversized logs.

"We like to cut oversized logs, especially the first log on the tree," said Artis Almond, adding, "The first cut log on a tree has less knots, the lumber will grade higher and it will sell for a better price."

The market was developed as a result of larger mills remodeling to use smaller trees in the manufacturing of engineered wood products. The development of the engineered wood products allows mills to chip trees and combine the chips to make trusses and other engineered wooden products from smaller trees. So the development of this process reduced the need for large trees, according to industry experts.

As a result, the Almond brothers were successful at developing a specialty business of using large logs to saw high-grade specialty products such as flooring and other wooden lumber. Markets for these products also were developed overseas in Asia and Europe.

"We can saw trees up to 54 inches in diameter," said Will Almond.

Tax and legal issues were among the other aspects covered during the forum.

"The tax and legal issues are always highlights of the forum," said LSU AgCenter forester Barry Crain, and Paul Spillers, a practicing attorney and landowner, has a unique way of soliciting and answering questions from landowners.

Spillers said a tree farm could be set up as a business, hobby or an investment. He explained the tax advantages and disadvantages of each.

"The tax and legal issues session was the best session," said Bryan McCann, a forest landowner from Avoyelles Parish.

Environmental programs also affect private landowners and loggers as they plan to manage and harvest their timber resources, so those also were a topic of discussion during the forum.

One of the new programs that will help landowners manage their property for timber and wildlife is the Safe Harbor Agreement for the Management of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.

"This is an incentive-based environmental program that will be good for the species and the private landowner," Crain said.

Experts also stressed that landowners and loggers should follow best management practices and operate in an environmentally friendly way. The Louisiana Forestry Association maintains a list of Master Loggers on its Web site at www.laforestry.com/council/llcmasterloggers.asp to help landowners find a qualified logger.

"Forestry is a challenging industry," said Clyde Todd of the Louisiana Forestry Association, "And all these issues impact the profitability of the landowner."

Dean Tyler, a timber buyer, explained the need for landowners to get involved in encouraging elected parish officials to consider the effect of restricting log trucks from hauling timber over parish roads.

"The cost of permits, fines and penalties of harvesting a track of timber is passed on to the landowner," Tyler said.

Other topics discussed at the forum included an update on laws recently passed and discussions on forest incentive programs and endangered species.

"We are all in this business together," said Todd, adding, "Landowners, loggers and mills must work together to remain viable as an industry."

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Contacts:
Barry Crain at (318) 473-6605 or bcrain@agcenter.lsu.edu
Buck Vandersteen at (318) 443-2558 or lfa@laforestry.com
Clyde Todd at (318) 443-2558 or ctodd@laforestry.com
Writer:
John Chaney at (318) 473-6605 or jchaney@agcenter.lsu.edu

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