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|2015 Paul Bunyan Show Run-Down|
The 59th Paul Bunyan Show ran October 2-4, 2015 at the Guernsey County Fairgrounds which has now hosted the show for the 10th straight year. It was an excellent show this year, save for one of the factors that simply can’t be controlled, the weather. After having a late summer run of dry and warm weather and conditions holding up to the week of the show, wet weather descended early in the week during preparation and hit with a vengeance during the show. A heavy Tuesday downpour greeted the prep crew and then significant rain from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon affected attendance and show activities. For the first time in memory, the International Lumberjack Competition was postponed from Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning. The weather appeared to have a definite impact on attendance and attendance patterns. After a 5-year run of increased show attendance, the number coming through the gate declined this year. A total of 8,923 were at the show this year, down from 10,368 in 2014. That’s a 14% decline. Interestingly, however, attendance on Friday and Sunday were significantly higher this year than the previous year. Friday attendance jumped 44% from Friday 2014 while Sunday was 30% higher. Saturday saw nearly half the number of people as last year. Weather aside, the show was still considered a good success as a fairgrounds full of exhibitors had good sales and all activities experienced good participation. The newly added "Bobtail and Boom Trucks Cruise In” drew a nice number of participants for the first showing with 14 trucks, while the re-located Education Hall provided a good venue for the Master Logger recertification and general education classes. It will take a little while to clean up all the show details and get a final report. In the meantime, OFA extends our thanks to the many volunteers, sponsors, and donors make the show so successful. We sincerely appreciate all you have done.
Hardwood Check Off News
On September 29, 2015 the US Hardwood Lumber Industry Coalition (USHLIC) put out this news release concerning projected revenues from the "third” version of the proposed Hardwood Check Off. For those who have been following the Hardwood Check Off proposal, during the public comment period on the second round of the Check Off order (which ran from early June through September 7, 2015) the Blue Ribbon Committee, which developed the original proposal, suggested a "third” version of the proposal. In those comments, the BRC made some assertions about expected revenues if the newly proposed version were put into place. The USHLIC took issue with the new proposal as well as the estimates of the expected revenues if it were to be implemented. The news release counters the revenue projections of the third proposal. At this point, the public comment period for the second version has closed and it is now up to the USDA to determine the next course of action. That could involve putting the second version out for referendum within the industry, developing another amended order and filing it for public comment, or dropping the proposal completely.
OFA and Other State Associations Support SAFE Trucking Act
OFA has joined with 8 other Ohio trade associations to support the SAFE (Safe, Flexible, and Efficient) Trucking Act which was introduced into the U.S. House by Cong. Reid Ribble (R-WI). Per this letter from Cong. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), we are encouraging the passage of the legislation as a step to encourage more efficient manufacturing and trucking around the country and especially in Ohio.
Riverside Energy Information
Sherri Loscko from Riverside Energy contacted OFA with some important information about electric generation service agreements that many manufacturers may have. OFA and Riverside Energy have a cooperative program to offer assistance to manufacturers to secure lowest cost electric services. The following is from Sherri: "It has come to our attention that some members may be unaware that their electric generation service agreements may have early termination penalty clauses. Most supplier agreements do contain an early termination clause. The amount of the fee can vary from a fixed amount to a fee based on the contract's remaining time. Penalties may be assessed if a member terminates the agreement early. Members should keep this in mind and double check the current contract end dates when executing new agreements. A change in ownership could also initiate an early termination fee so members should review the electric agreements and talk to their suppliers before selling or buying businesses or facilities where electric agreements for generation service have been executed. The dollar amount of the early termination fee can be very significant! Contracts for electric generation service are complicated and the calculation of an early termination fee, if any, can be confusing.” Sherri also added information about the change in transmission cost recovery: "Effective June 1, 2015, AEP Ohio is collecting the non-market based transmission costs that previously were included in suppliers' fixed prices. This new charge shows up on the AEP Ohio bill as a non-bypassable line item. If a member signed a contract for electric generation service with an alternate supplier prior to June 2015, there is a possibility that the non-market based transmission costs were included in their supply price. In that case, the supplier should have backed these costs out of the price and the member should have seen their fixed price rate go down in June. This change could impact the amount of the bill. For some, it is a decrease and for others, an increase. The impact depends on the member's coincidence of demand with the utility peak times and the members load factors. If you saw your amount of bill change in June, this may help explain it.” If you have any questions or need help, feel free to call Sherri Loscko, OFA/Riverside Energy Services Program, 614-766-7740, sherri.loscko@RiversideEnergy.com.
AEP to Sell Land Base; ODNR Interested in Acquisition
American Electric Power (AEP) has long-owned a significant amount of land in southeast Ohio. Referred to by the company as ReCreation Lands, it once provide a significant amount of Ohio’s coal for fuel. Held for decades, thousands of acres were mined, reclaimed and then used for recreational purposes. Many outdoor enthusiasts are familiar with the fishing and hunting opportunities, backpack and hiking trails, horse trails, and campsites. AEP is now interested in divesting 60,000 acres of forest and reclaimed mine lands in Muskingum, Noble, and Morgan Counties. (see map). The ODNR Divisions of Forestry and Wildlife are interested in putting together a plan to acquire the land in total and are looking for support to accomplish that. The Division of Forestry is currently working on a Forest Legacy Proposal (reported in a previous weekly news item) to acquire approximately 2,500 acres of the property. If that is successful it would be the hope that the remaining property could be acquired over a number of years, insuring that the ownership stays intact and continues to offer the products and benefits it currently offers. OFA has recently been asked to co-sign a coalition letter from Ohio recreational and conservation groups supporting ODNR’s acquisition of the property. The OFA Board agreed that OFA should support that effort.
OSU to Hire Forest Products/Economics Extension Specialist
Last year, the OSU Extension program bid farewell to Dr. Eric McConnell as he took a new position at North Carolina State University. Dr. McConnell had been an OFA Board member and served Ohio’s forest products industry with his research and outreach. OFA had lobbied the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Extension Program to refill his position and recently the school announced that it is starting search proceedings for Dr. McConnell’s replacement. OFA has been invited to be part of the search committee and will work with OSU Forestry Faculty and DOF staff in the process. It is hoped that the position will be filled by early, 2016.
PA SFI Takes Professional Logger Training to High School Students
The Pennsylvania Sustainable Forestry Initiative is working to recruit high school students in to the logging profession by offering them the same training credential as professional loggers. According to a news release from the PA SFI, the SFI Implementation Committee has trained high school students at the Central Mountain High School to the same standard as professional loggers (similar to Ohio’s Master Logger Program). With the credential, students may be interested in pursuing a logging career once they have left high school.
US EPA Considers Changes to State Pesticide Applicator Requirements; Significant Increase in Recertification Requirements
The US EPA has jurisdiction over states with licensing of pesticide applicators and sets federal standards for what states must meet in administering federal law. Recently, US EPA proposed changes to training and recertification requirements for licensed applicators. The changes, which are currently open for public comment, do not change initial training requirements for licensed applicators. However, US EPA is proposing a significant upgrade in recertification training requirements. In general recertification training hours required could increase 2-3 times if US EPA changes are implemented. You can see what EPA is proposing at the link. If you want to make comment on how the standards can affect you, you can do so here.
Kentucky Timber Theft Law Action
Kentucky has been dealing with possible changes to timber theft law much the same as Ohio has in the last several years. Here is an article that describes recent actions on efforts to address concerns in that state. The Kentucky legislature has commissioned a review committee to take a look at the timber theft issue and recommend changes to the law. A recent meeting suggested that better enforcement of existing law is what is needed in the state. That sounds very similar to recommendations that forest industry interests in Ohio have made in recent years.
Ohio Budget Director Sounds Caution Over Weak Income Tax Receipts
Ohio Budget Director indicated that tax collections last month for Ohio income tax misses estimates by a significant margin and urged caution with allocating state revenues. He advised that collections were 5.6% below projections which he believes is a significant number. He advised however, that total tax revenues year-to-date still remain on track. OBM believes that the shortfall is due in part to the impact of all the small business tax changes over the last couple of years, and the difficulty with making projections as a result.
Energy Mandates Study Committee Recommends Continuing Freeze on Renewable Energy Standards
Recently, a legislative study committee that was charged with reviewing the Ohio Energy Mandate per the state energy bill passed in 2008 recommended that the currently "frozen” renewable energy standards should remain frozen indefinitely due to what it believes would be excessive costs to the consumer for continued implementation of the standards. The original bill had required utilities to reduce energy consumption by consumers a total of 22% by 2025 and secure 12.5% of power from solar, wind, or other renewable sources. When the standards were frozen, companies achieved a 2.5% reduction and 4.2% of energy coming from alternative sources. The study committee cited concerns with rising Ohio consumer electric payments along with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan as reasons to maintain the freeze. As expected, there were those critical of the recommendation, particularly from the environmental community as well as the alternative energy industry. The Ohio Farm Bureau also criticized the recommendation. The Kasich Administration also took issue with this recommendation and has advised the legislature that it is willing to work with the General Assembly to develop legislation that will support a diverse mix of energy sources.
US EPA Lowers Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)
Recently, the U.S. EPA announced that it is lowering the Ozone NAAQS from 75 ppb (parts per billion) to 70 ppb. The national forest products industry fought to prevent the administration from lowering the standards and successfully helped prevent it from going lower than it was proposed to be (60 ppb). However, there is strong concern that the current standards will be very expensive to many industries and result in the loss of jobs and economic impact. The forest products industry shared opposition with a number of national unions to help fight the change, as they also felt it would lead to loss of jobs. As is the case with such announcements, it is anticipated there will be legal challenges to the determinations. Ohio’s business community has come out hard with criticism of the ruling, indicating that it will hurt large business and small businesses alike.
2015 August Housing Report
Here is the August 2015 Housing Report prepared by Urs Buehlmann from the Virginia Tech Department of Sustainable Biomaterials and Al Schuler, retired USFS Economist. The report contains a significant amount of information about housing and other economic conditions. Take a look at page 6 for general conclusions on the strength of housing (mixed) and pages 44-45 with short and long term projections for housing.
F&W Forestry Report, Fall 2015
You can take a look at the Fall 2015 F&W Forestry Report from F&W Forestry Services. The report talks about stable to declining stumpage prices around the country, steady progress in the housing market, legal actions on WOTUS implementation, log and lumber exports in 2015, uncertainties concerning forest biomass under the new Clean Power Plan, growing European demand for wood pellets and the impact on southern forests, the US-Canada paper industry promotion, farm land value changes around the country, and possible review of timber tax provisions with congressional consideration of the tax code.
AF&PA News Release on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Affecting Wood Products
Hereis a news release from the American Forest & Paper Association concerning the TPP and its impact on wood products. Per the brief release, there is hope that the TPP will assist the export of US wood products through the elimination of tariffs among participating countries and the enforcement of illegal logging. The countries involved in the TPP beyond the United States are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Singapore. The U.S. already has free trade agreements with Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Singapore. Here is a link to the summary of the TPP.
Global Wood Pellet Demand to Reach $20 Billion by 2023
Interest in wood pellets as an energy source continues to grow and a recent report by Transparency Market Research indicates demand will grow by 14% per year through 2023. Demand is being driven by interest in renewable fuels from electric generators around the world. In 2014, power plants globally consumed 800,000 tons of pellets. The report can be viewed here.
- Woodland Management Program, Thursday evening, October 15,2015, Moore Woods, Guernsey County. Hereis a flyer for a woodland owner workshop offered by the Division of Forestry and the Guernsey SWCD on woodland management. Workshop is free, but organizers are asking for pre-sign ups to get an idea of the number attending. Hit the links for each county to find registration information.
- Ohio and Indiana Joint Walnut Council Field Day, October 17, 2015, Lawrenceburg, IN.See this flyer for the upcoming event. There is no cost but planners would like to get numbers attending. Please register ahead.
- Master Logger Training: Best Management Practices, October 29, 2015, Scioto Trail State Forest. Training needed for Master Logger Certification. The day-long training requires pre-registration. Lunch is provided.
- CSAW Level 1, October 30, 2015, Scioto Trail State Forest. Chainsaw training for Master Logger Certification. Pre-registration required. Lunch is provided.
- Ohio Woodland Stewards: Winter Tree Workshops, October 30, 2015, Geauga County; November 6, 2015, Butler County. The Ohio Woodland Steward Program is hosting Winter Tree Workshops in northeast and southwest Ohio to help participants identify Ohio trees in the winter. Both are full day workshops which require registration, and a fee of $35.
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