King, Golden Reintroduce Bill to Help Young Mainers Work at Family Logging Operations
Bill would help train next generation of Maine loggers as an estimated 2,000 loggers retire over the next decade
WASHINGTON — Senator Angus King (I-ME) and Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) reintroduced their Future Logging Careers Act this week with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chellie Pingree (ME-01) as cosponsors. The bipartisan, bicameral Future Logging Careers Act would allow small logging businesses to train 16- and 17-year-old family members for futures in Maine forest products.
“Maine’s logging industry is part of the foundation of our state, passed down from generation to generation as a way to support rural Maine families and anchor the region’s economy,” said Senator King. “Many young people across our state are planning to enter this industry, and we should give them the opportunity to begin their training early in a safe, managed way. This legislation would allow young people to get hands-on experience in the logging field alongside their parents or grandparents, helping to train the next generation of loggers. This is a bill that supports Maine families, strengthens this fundamental Maine industry, and enhances the long-term skills of Maine’s forest products workforce.”
“Many Maine logging operations are small, family businesses who had a very tough year in 2020,” said Congressman Golden. “If we can help them carry on these important family businesses and provide good jobs in rural Maine at the same time, that’s good policy. Our bipartisan bill will allow young Mainers to start their careers as loggers earlier — as long as they’re under the supervision of family members — providing logging businesses with needed labor and young Mainers with a good start for a career in the woods.”
“Maine’s timber industry is an integral part of our economy and continues to be the primary economic driver of many rural communities throughout our state. The industry relies on mechanized equipment, and it can take a year or more of training before an operator is able to operate these machines. To prevent severe worker shortages, provide good jobs, and keep the forest products industry strong, it is essential that the next generation be prepared for the logging profession,” said Senator Collins. “This legislation will help parents who own logging businesses to pass down their skills to their children and teach them how to safely harvest timber under careful supervision.”
“As the most forested state in the nation, the logging industry has long been key to generations of rural Maine families. Maine has a history of family-run, small logging operations that rely on their children and grandchildren to keep their businesses alive,” said Congresswoman Pingree. “We must allow young people across Maine to safely learn the craft from their family members as they prepare for good paying jobs in the forest products industry. The Future Logging Careers Act will encourage young Mainers to begin their careers in a heritage Maine industry and help grow the workforce as many loggers reach retirement age.”
“The logging industry has a long and proud history in Maine, but it's future is uncertain without Congressional action," said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC). “The industry is built on a foundation of small family businesses that have been passed down from generation to generation, hire thousands of Mainers, and contribute hundreds of millions to our state's economy. The Future Logging Careers Act will ensure that these businesses can sustain themselves for the long term. This common-sense legislation is long overdue and Congressman Golden and Senator King should be applauded for their leadership in reintroducing it and their work to protect the future of the industry."
The legislation would help address a logging workforce shortage that exists in some areas of Maine and is expected to worsen in the coming years. The University of Southern Maine estimates that some 2,000 loggers and heavy duty truckers — more than a third of the labor force — will retire in the next 8 years.
Currently, 16- and 17-year-old Mainers are not allowed to partake in logging operations, even under parental supervision. This new legislation would make changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow young Mainers to gain this important experience, while also ensuring that particularly dangerous equipment — like manual chain saws — is still prohibited for use by minors.
The legislation was also introduced in 2019.