We finished the last of five candidates breakfasts on October 10 in Calais and I’m happy to say we had an excellent turnout — about 150 total — of candidates and members. These breakfasts are valuable because they bring our members together with candidates who care enough about our industry to show up — some driving many miles — and listen.
It also helps the Council’s legislative efforts to get to know new candidates and make contact with those who have already served in the Legislature. Some will cast important votes on industry issues in the coming legislative session, but even those who don’t win election are likely to remain active and engaged in their towns. They need to know what’s happening in our $8.5 billion industry, especially since we hope to grow it to $12 billion by 2025.
On an MFPC note, one participant at the Scarborough breakfast was both a candidate and a member! Greg Foster, who operates Timber State G forestry consulting service with his father is a House candidate in District 66, which includes most of Raymond, along with parts of Casco and Poland. Greg follows in the footsteps of his dad, Clif, who represented District 41 in the 118th, 119th, 120th Maine legislatures and is still an MFPC Board member.
THANKS TO OUR BREAKFAST SPONSORS!
- Sept. 26, Old Town, sponsored by Huber Resources, Farm Credit East and BBC Land Inc.
- Sept. 27, Caribou, sponsored by Huber Engineered Wood, Farm Credit East and Seven Islands.
- Oct. 3, Scarborough, sponsored by Farm Credit East and Weyerhaeuser.
- Oct. 9, Farmington, sponsored by Stratton Lumber, American Forest Management and Farm Credit East.
- Oct. 10, Calais, sponsored by Farm Credit East and Woodland Pulp.
MFPC, Maine Woodland Owners, and the PLC appreciated the opportunity to talk with candidates across the state about some of the issues that are most important to the forest products community.
In general, the candidates had a very positive response as we explained how the industry and its partners such as the Maine Development Foundation, the University of Maine and Biobased Maine, have been working on the FOR/Maine project and report. They were excited to hear about the opportunities ahead and wanted to help us meet the challenges we face.
“I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to see this happening,” said Ann Peoples of Westbrook, a candidate in House District 35.
I think everyone wants to help our industry and many times we were asked what legislators could do. That gave us opportunities to explain important issues they were likely to face if elected.
I often didn’t have to say a word because our members jumped in to explain, for example, how important the Tree Growth Tax Program is to our industry.
“The Tree Growth tax law is absolutely critical to Southern Maine,” said Terry Walters, an MFPC board member, told candidates at the Scarborough breakfast. “You’ve got to protect that program and landowners get discouraged if you keep changing it.”We also talked about the need to lower energy costs and for state tax incentives to encourage existing businesses to expand and businesses from outside the state to invest here, especially in rural communities. Another prominent topic was workforce development. Candidates know, as we do, that a serious state effort will be needed to supply workers for us and for other industries.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, we were able to provide breakfast for both candidates and members. I was especially heartened by the informal discussions between members and candidates before, during and after each breakfast. I am always proud to say that our members are the best spokespersons for Maine’s forest products industry.