Since USDA rolled out the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative in March, the USDA has announced over $7 billion in assistance to producers and agriculture entities. In its latest assistance, USDA is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19 as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program or PATHH is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized this critical assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10% during the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2020, compared to the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2019, are encouraged to apply.
“USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative promised to get financial assistance to a broader set of producers and today’s announcement delivers on that promise,” says Vilsack. “On top of the existing challenges associated with natural disasters and trade, the pandemic caused a major disruption for loggers and timber haulers including lack of access to wood processing mills. This industry plays a critical role in our nation’s economy and we are proud to support these hard-working loggers and truckers as they get back on track.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., joined Vilsack and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, to announce the aid on July 20. Baldwin notes the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in mills laying off workers and loggers considering closing up shop. "I worked to help provide this much-needed relief for our loggers and haulers to make it through this challenging time, and I will continue working in the Senate to support our timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses who experienced a loss in revenue through no fault of their own,” she says.
“Like many facets of the agriculture industry, the logging industry has experienced its share of financial hardships throughout the pandemic,” adds FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “We’re happy to work with the U.S. Forest Service to develop this new program to provide critically needed support.”
“Patience sometimes pays,” states Matt Jensen, owner of Whitetail Logging and President of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association headquartered in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. “When the COVID pandemic began and pulp mills like the one in Wisconsin Rapids began closing because of it, timber harvesters and haulers nationwide, for the first time in my logging career, asked the federal government for financial assistance.”
Money for assistance was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 however, because FSA, through no fault of its own, had no experience in dealing with timber harvesters and haulers and had to start from scratch to build guidelines with which to access the money. “GLTPA and its members are very grateful for the persistent work done by Senator Baldwin, FSA, USFS, USDA and others to get PATHH money into the hands of producers who truly need it,” Jensen says.
“We’ve heard from loggers and truckers whose livelihoods were significantly impacted this past year by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are pleased that USDA can help alleviate some of the financial burden,” says Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “I encourage those logging and log-hauling businesses hardest hit by the pandemic to learn more about the assistance offered through this new program.”
To be eligible for payments, individuals or legal entities must be a timber harvesting or timber hauling business where 50% or more of its gross revenue is derived from one or more of the following:
- Cutting timber.
- Transporting timber.
- Processing of wood on-site on the forest land (chipping, grinding, converting to biochar, cutting to smaller lengths, etc.).
Payments will be based on the applicant’s gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 1, 2019, minus gross revenue received from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 1, 2020, multiplied by 80%. FSA will issue an initial payment equal to the lesser of the calculated payment amount or $2,000 as applications are approved. A second payment will be made after the signup period has ended based upon remaining PATHH funds.
The maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive directly is $125,000.
Applying for assistance
Loggers and truckers can apply for PATHH beginning on July 22 by completing form FSA-1118, Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers Program application, and certifying to their gross revenue for 2019 and 2020 on the application. Additional documentation may be required. Visit farmers.gov/pathh for more information on how to apply.
Applications can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery, or via electronic means. To find a local FSA office, loggers and truckers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator. They can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance.
FSA will host a stakeholder webinar on Wednesday, July 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Interested participants must register for the webinar.