Legislative Update June 25, 2021

Gov. Mills vetoes LD 125 An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture
 

Late Friday afternoon, Gov. Janet Mills vetoed LD 125, a bill to ban aerial spraying. Now we all need to urge our legislators — ASAP! — to sustain her veto when the Legislature reconvenes at 10 a.m., Wednesday, June 30. Find your legislators by entering your address here.

“We appreciate Gov. Mills veto very much. She clearly understood the issues and our concerns, about the effect on Maine’s forest economy,” said MFPC Executive Director Patrick Strauch. “We encourage Maine’s legislators to sustain her veto.”

The majority of the ACF Committee agreed to turn the bill into a resolve to establish more setback standards for aerial application of herbicides, but Sen. Jackson, D-Aroostook, used the power of the Senate President’s office to support the minority report and ban aerial spraying for forestry.

In Gov. Mills veto message she wrote: “Spraying for site preparation is conducted once or twice over the course of a 40- to 60-year rotation of a forest stand. It is applied with careful thought, planning, and consideration.

“It is applied under strict adherence to practices that account for weather conditions, wind direction and speed, rate of application, and the location of streams, brooks, and other water bodies. Banning aerial application, however, would force landowners to conduct ground application, which is manually intensive, has a potential for greater site disturbance and soil compaction, and may require multiple applications with higher and more dangerous concentrations levels to achieve the same level of effectiveness.

“The environmental concerns associated with aerial application need to be balanced with the goal of decarbonization and the legitimate needs of silviculture enterprises. This bill, the minority report of the Committee, fails to achieve that balance.”

When the Legislature adjourned June 17, it expected to deal with a flood of vetoes even though Gov. Mills had only issued 10 vetoes in her first two years in office. As of today, she has vetoed a total of 11 this week, including another bill MFPC opposed.

LD 194 An Act To Prohibit Contributions, Expenditures and Participation by Foreign Government-owned Entities To Influence Referenda. Excerpt from Gov. Mills’ veto message: “As an initial matter, L.D. 194’s definition of those entities subject to its prohibitions is broad, and would reach dozens of businesses that we regard as very much part of the fabric of the Maine community. Entities with direct foreign investment employ thousands of Mainers.They include Stratton Lumber, Woodland Pulp and Paper, Backyard Farms, McCain Foods, and Sprague Energy, to name just a few. Legislation that could bar these entities from any form of participation in a referendum is offensive to the democratic process, which depends on a free and unfettered exchange of ideas, information, and opinion. Such limitations on what the Supreme Court has called “core political speech” are also highly suspect as a constitutional matter.” Click here to see all her vetoes.

Unfortunately, LD 188 An Act Regarding the Transportation of Products in the Forest Products Industry, which MFPC opposed, became public law without Gov. Mills signature. Although the federal government has authority of immigration law, this bill created a state law violation for landowners and contractors who hire nonresident truckers who are lawfully working in the U.S. (specifically H-2A workers). We hope to work with federal authorities for guidance on how to proceed.

The Legislature has processed more than 1,700 bills this session and has about 30 left to vote on, according to the Portland Press Herald.

To see the status (as of today) of all the bills that MFPC is tracking click here

 

Maine’s Forest Action Plan Earns USDA Forest Service Approval
 
10-Year strategic document will help  guide state’s forest management actions
 
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Maine Forest Service (MFS) has received official approval for its 2020 Forest Action Plan from the USDA Forest Service. The plan is a ten-year strategic document designed to help guide policies, priorities, and actions to conserve Maine’s forest resources. Read Maine’s Forest Action Plan.
 
Maine’s Forest Action Plan analyzes current conditions and trends of Maines trees and forests and provides strategies and actions to ensure a sustainable future for the state’s forests. The program is complementary to the Maine Climate Council’s recommendations in “Maine Won’t Wait,” as well as the State Wildlife Action Plan and other planning documents.
 
All U.S. states and territories must have Forest Action Plans to receive federal aid through USDA Forest Service’s State Private Forestry programs. A US Farm Bill requirement designed to support private woodland owner stewardship, urban and community forestry, and assistance to rural fire departments.
 
“This is the culmination of a great deal of hard work, research, and input by MFS staff, partner agencies, stakeholders, and members of the public,” said State Forester Patty Cormier. “We appreciate the USDA Forest Service’s acceptance of Maine’s 2020 Forest Action Plan and look forward to using it as an important tool in Maine’s forest policy toolbox.”
 
 
 
June Newsletter: Focused on the future of Maine’s forest economy
 
The work of FOR/Maine continues to be accomplished through robust and dynamic committees comprised of leaders from industry, nonprofit, government, education, and communities. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
 
WORKFORCE: FOR/Maine’s Workforce Committee is focused on understanding the industry’s labor demand, identifying appropriate labor pools, and recruiting and training the workforce necessary to drive growth and innovation in Maine’s forest products economy. The committee has been working with the Center for Business and Economic Research at USM to complete a study including recommendations for an industry workforce strategy. The Final Draft Workforce report has been received from the University of Southern Maine team and approved by the Workforce Committee. The final report will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval and posted on FOR/Maine’s site by the end of June.
 
MARKET ATTRACTION: The Market Attraction Committee is focused on developing a Strategic Investment Attraction Strategy for Maine’s forest economy. The committee contracts with Indufor for strategy generation, lead development and lead stewardship. Monitoring this relationship and the leads generated is the committee’s primary focus as we strive to attract new business to Maine, and spur re-investment in businesses in the state. An MOU group has been formed to manage leads generated by Indufor. Leveraging the work of five other FOR/Maine committees, the MOU group is able to efficiently compile responses for interested companies.
 
EMERGING TECH: The purpose of the Emerging Technologies Committee is to scan the local and global landscape of research and business development activities to identify opportunities in new forest products that may be a good fit for Maine and to assess the potential of these companies. The committee continues to accomplish this work through utilizing a standard memo to assess companies as they arise, and partnering with Indufor to improve an existing database of emerging technology companies.
 
WOOD SUPPLY: The purpose of the Wood Supply Committee is to assess species variety and availability under different environmental and economic scenarios. The Wood Supply Committee has worked with Sewall Company to complete an updated analysis, which will be released in July.
 
SMALL LANDOWNERS: The purpose of the Small Woodland Owner Committee is to improve outreach and engagement with Maine’s small woodland owners, with the goals of increasing engagement with forest land and increasing sustainable yields from small woodlots. The committee contracted with the Center for Non-Profit Solutions to conduct a study and develop a strategy for engaging “Woodland Retreat” landowners, which the committee reviewed in early June and will be released in July.
 
TRANSPORTATION: The purpose of the Transportation Committee is to examine opportunities for improved efficiency in the transportation of forest products, associated machinery and vehicles. The transportation continues to work with DOT to elevate priority route improvements to roads and bridges and is in the process of drafting a scope of work for a study that will assess the possibility of expanding a pilot for the movement of empty low beds and forest harvesting equipment at night.
 
COMMUNICATIONS: The focus of the Communications Committee is to oversee a marketing and public relations campaign, managed by Sutherland Weston, that seeks to amplify visibility and positive perception of the sector. The committee is working on compiling a set of interviews with equipment operators, foresters, mill workers, researchers, community members, etc. that will be used in video clips to illustrate career possibilities in Maine’s forest economy. 
Do you know someone who is doing an outstanding job?
 
Do you know someone who is outstanding? It’s time to nominate him/her for MFPC for annual awards
 
Each year, the Maine Forest Products Council asks its members to select outstanding individuals from the forest products community who excel in their professions. Please take the time to consider those people in the forest products community who have done an exemplary job in these areas and deserve recognition for their positive impact on our industry. It is an important opportunity for us to look within our industry and provide recognition and public attention where it is due. Nominations are due by July 31. The recipients will be recognized at the MFPC annual meeting banquet on September 20 at Sugarloaf.
  • Abby Holman Public Service Award
  • Outstanding Logger Award
  • Outstanding Trucker Award
  • Outstanding Manufacturer Award
  • Outstanding Forester Award
 
Don’t forget to sign up for the 2021 MFPC Golf Tournament on Thursday, July 8!