Relationships important for industry

Reared in a military family, my early years were regimented and disciplined. Standing at attention every Saturday morning at my door, I would salute Dad as he entered to inspect my bedroom. With white gloves on he would check for dust on the furniture, pull a book from the bookshelf and blow air at the top binding checking for dust and throw a quarter on the bed to see how high it bounced.

Although responsibility, organization and leadership skills were learned, I found myself drawn to the tranquility of nature and soon chose a career that I thought would keep me in the solitude.

To my surprise, forestry and agriculture are equally a “people” business as they are a crop-growing business. Dad’s cliché, “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” resonates in my mind.

Through the years, relationships are formed in our crop-growing industry that gives testimony to Dad’s cliché, not to diminish our own personal knowledge and experiences. Relationships are formed with our coworkers, business professionals, industry leaders, landowners, loggers, college professors, professional association members and government officials, just to name a few.

Agriculture and forestry are deemed essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic only making us more aware of the importance of our relationships and networking in this industry.

According to 2017 LSU AgCenter figures, the forest products industry’s impact on the Louisiana economy was almost $12.92 billion. This large economic impact makes it imperative for landowners and government to work together to benefit each other.

Landowners grow timber, loggers harvest timber, mills produce usable goods for consumers and the government collects taxes to maintain infrastructure.

When trees are harvested a severance tax is levied which yielded, for example, $13.62 million in 2018, which supports many statewide programs. Seventy-five percent of this tax is returned to the parish in which the trees were harvested to help maintain and build infrastructure. The remaining 25 percent is held within the state’s general fund in which a portion is used as a partial reimbursement incentive to forest landowners to implement various forest management activities through the Forest Productivity Program (FPP).

In addition to severance tax, the property ad valorem tax levied on property owners also benefits the local government by sustaining and advancing Louisiana’s business climate, therefore, encouraging the creation of additional markets for our natural resource.

Pine forests are in abundance and reveal themselves while traveling the rural roads of our state. The FPP incentive program through the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has successfully provided the means to grow a wealth of the renewable natural resource. It is now up to the timber landowners, working with government officials, to encourage the growth of new markets.