Resiliency, resolve to advocacy leadership

This year, we have all been challenged and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has changed our approach to personal safety and illustrated the resilient spirit of people – especially those within forest products industry, who have become even more essential throughout this crisis.

Our industry continues to supply products of need every day — things like tissue products, toilet paper, paper towels and corrugated boxes. And as 2020 comes to a close, I am thankful for the approximately 950,000 people of the forest products industry who have safely and reliably gone to work throughout this pandemic. You are on the front lines supporting a supply chain that produces essential paper and wood products that are also sustainable and innovative by design.

The pandemic has also brought economic and political uncertainty. We continue to face economic headwinds, and we are learning a lot from the recent election, but above all, what it has shown is that every person and vote counts.

This year, we’ve also seen devastating natural disasters, including Hurricanes Laura, Marco, Delta and Zeta, which have impacted Louisiana this year. The powerful Category 4 winds of Hurricane Laura alone resulted in damage to more than 750,000 acres of timberland, totaling more than $1.1 billion to the state’s forest economy.

The work of the Louisiana Forestry Association and its members immediately after these storms, including the formation of a Forest Recovery Task Force to assess the impact of Louisiana families, employees, mills and forestry resources, proved vital and essential to the state’s recovery. It’s also further proof that our industry can stay resilient and ready to respond during a crisis.

While we face many uncertainties on the road ahead, it’s reaffirming to see how our industry has responded during these unprecedented times. Throughout these immense challenges, your resiliency has reinforced your resolve, working to keep people safe while also supporting local communities in need.

Earlier this spring, at the onset of the pandemic, the forest products industry was there to help, donating personal protective equipment to healthcare workers and supplying boxes to food banks to transport and ship food to people in need.

I believe the most remarkable attribute of our industry is its people. We are an industry of people filled with big, generous hearts. When a neighbor needs help, we step up. When we see inequity, injustice, or unfairness, we speak up. Because we know that our industry and our communities can’t thrive if some are left behind. Our industry is filled with amazing opportunities. For instance, we offer family-wage jobs producing essential and sustainable products. And these opportunities, in turn, can offer people and many communities strength, and a sense of purpose.

So, let’s continue to rise to every challenge — whether it is a goal we set for ourselves or an obstacle we face together. We are an industry that is constantly innovating, learning, and reaching new limits of p