June 21, 2013

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Legislature adjourns, but it’s not over   

By Executive Director Patrick Strauch

 There were some late nights this week and frayed emotions as the legislature adjourned on Thursday around 2 a.m. But the work on the budget and a lot more issues is still going on.

LD 443, a bill to roll back workers’ compensation changes cleared the House, 81-56, and Senate, 18-16 this week, even though the bill could add tens of millions of dollars to the comp premiums of Maine employers. The bill was sent to the special appropriations table. Its fiscal note said unofficial estimates indicate the potential increase in premiums across all insured employers to be between $6.4 million and $27.2 million. Read more legislative news.

 Weekly newsletter soon will go monthly again

 With the Legislature about to close up shop, the pace of the news will slow down considerably. So soon – probably in early July — MFPC will go back to a monthly newsletter. First, though, we plan to bring you next Friday an initial wrap-up of what happened in this legislative session that affects our industry. Then we’ll start working on more in-depth issues for the monthly newsletter. One story we’re considering is how technology and mechanization has and will affect the forest products industry. We hope you’ll let us know your thoughts and opinions on that issue and suggest other topics that you think deserve an in-depth approach. Just email Roberta Scruggs, communications director, or call her at 207-622-9288 with your ideas.

 FIN video coming soon, SFI gets a good report

SFI report coverThere have been several interesting developments on the SFI front this week. Close to home, Pat Sirois, SFI executive director, and Roberta Scruggs have been working with other members of the Fisheries Improvement Network on a video about FIN and the importance of upgrading stream crossings. It should be ready  soon and we will share it with you.

The Wall Street Journal ran a very encouraging report about SFI across the U.S. and Canada this week under the headline: New Report: Sustainable Forestry Initiative Shows Gains in All Performance Indicators, and a number of other media outlets also reported the good news.

According to the SFI annual report, since 2007, forests certified to the SFI Standard(R) have grown by 100 million acres to 240 million acres today. Total chain-of-custody certified locations grew from 500 in 2007 to more than 2,500. Also, SFI received on-product label requests for more than 6,000 wood, paper and packaging products in 2012, up from only 50 for the entire year in 2007. To see the full report visit the SFI website.

Finally, PR Newswire reported that a study released June 17, Comparing Forest Certification Standards in the U.S. found that “a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) monopoly on forest certification in the U.S. could destroy tens of thousands of American jobs and hurt forest economies in the South and the Pacific Northwest. The study also found that a FSC monopoly would significantly reduce wood flows in the U.S., resulting in substantial economic losses for landowners and job loss for direct employees such as foresters, loggers, and millworkers. The new research represents the most comprehensive economic analysis done on forest certification standards, and was prepared for EconoSTATS at George Mason University by Brooks Mendell, PhD, and Amanda Hamsley Lang at Forisk Consulting.”

Advancing Aroostook Forestry

On another Aroostook County note, every other week the NMDC does a segment on WAGM called Advancing Aroostook. Jon Gulliver, Director of Investor and Community Relations APP/NMDC, says it’s “just a short 50 seconds on different aspects of economic development or business success stories. In the past we have focused on the growth of the biomass industry in the region, “Education to Industry” initiatives and provided an overview of jobs projections for Aroostook County.”

If some of the photos look familiar, it’s because they were shot on the tour Patrick Strauch, Mark Doty, Roberta Scruggs and LUPC’s Nick Livesay took of the north Maine woods last fall.

 golf shotGreat tournament ahead! And thanks to our sponsors

 We’re looking forward to a great MFPC golf tournament on Thursday, July 18. The roster is already full with 128 players joining us at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course.  Again this year Varney Buick GMC and Buick GMC Motor Division will be sponsoring the Hole In One Contest with a truck waiting for the winner. This might be your year to drive it home! The tournament is the council’s biggest fundraiser and thanks to our sponsors – please check out the sponsors list — it already is a great success already.  We look forward to seeing you all there on July 18 and let’s hope for beautiful weather.