Eddie Long got his first chainsaw when he was 14. And from that day until he finished school he worked every summer in the woods. Working their 400 acre woodlot in Ludlow has been a family way of life going back six generations for the Longs, right back to when his great, great grandfather cut wood for the log drives of the day. In fact, Eddie only gave up logging with a horse 20 years ago when he upgraded to his skidder.
But the skidder doesn’t get as much use anymore. In fact these days Eddie is just cutting firewood. He’s an electrician by profession, but he would give it up in a minute if he could still make a decent living off cutting his wood for market.
But he, like tens of thousands of fellow New Brunswick woodlot owners, can’t make a go of it in the woods anymore. Here’s Eddie, comparing how woodlot owners are doing now, compared to the mid 90’s.
What it means, Eddie says, is that his sons, the next generation simply will not be able to make a go of it off their woodland. Asked what happened, he says it was a series of bad decisions by successive governments, to the point now where government says it doesn’t have a say, and private woodlot owners are being pushed aside.
Here’s how he summarizes the differences from years ago:
Among the government decisions that have effectively thrown rural New Brunswick woodlot owners out of what was an honest, viable way to make a living, was first, changing the legislation that private wood should be the primary source of supply with Crown wood only to be accessed if the private woodlot owners couldn’t supply enough to meet demands. That was made by the McKenna government at the request of the industry.
Another stake through their heart was a change that forestry companies no longer had to deal directly with marketing boards, but could negotiate contracts directly with woodlot owners.
These two changes put woodlot owners at a huge disadvantage because companies like JDI now held all the aces over woodlot owners, many of whom saw no choice but to take whatever JDI felt like paying. In fact when this restriction was lifted, prices paid for their wood immediately fell. This was also the McKenna government.The result, as you could see from the video above with Eddie Long, is that woodlot owners are having a hard time finding markets for their wood, and when they do, the pay it about half what it was in the mid-nineties.
Then, to make life even worse for woodlot owners, in its last year in office the Alward government substantially increased the amount of Crown land the forestry companies, particularly JDI, could have access to.
The way they are treated is unfair, no question about that. Our intent is to make their fellow New Brunswickers aware of what’s going on. Our hope, and our belief, is that once enough New Brunswickers realize the situation, their sense of fairness will kick in and they will let their MLAs or candidates know this is unacceptable and that something should be done.
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Thank you for listening,
President, New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners