The timber processing sector is in the spotlight as Congress begins to work on a sweeping $1 trillion farm bill that could reshape the economy and spur job creation.
But the industry’s popularity is likely to continue to fade as Congress moves to overhaul the nation’s food and drug safety system.
In a series of interviews with Reuters, timber processing companies said their growth will continue to be impacted by changes to the way they operate, which could mean more regulation and restrictions on their business.
They said their businesses are facing competition from cheaper Chinese imports, which have become a major headache for companies such as Pioneer and American Timber.
“I think we’re going to see more regulations, more restrictions on operations,” said Joe Gantt, president and CEO of Pioneer Timber & Paper.
“We’ll see regulations on what they can and cannot do with the trees we have on the property.”
Gantt said the company would need to be more stringent with its regulations on cutting trees and clearing trees on land where they are expected to grow timber.
The industry’s growth has been driven in part by increased demand for lumber and increased competition from cheap Chinese imports.
But even as demand for timber grows, some companies are warning of the impact of the new safety rules.
The United States Forest Service and the Food and Drug Administration are looking into regulations that could ban logging on public lands, a move that would affect nearly 2,000 timber processing sites in the United States, including more than 100 in Oregon.
American Timber has said that it would not be able to meet federal standards if the regulations are in place.
It has said the regulations could restrict how many workers can be on the site, and that it could require logging sites to close down.
American Timber has also said that if the government follows through on its threat to cut off the supply of timber, it would be cutting off timber from Oregon.
“We don’t think that will happen,” Ganttsaid.
“It’s just going to take longer.”
The regulations were proposed in a bill that passed the House and Senate on Jan. 25.
The legislation passed the Senate but has not been sent to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
In a statement to Reuters, the Forest Service said that its goal is to “ensure the safety of the timber harvest in the timberlands we manage.”
The agency did not provide details about what kind of logging would be affected by the new regulations.
It said the forest service has already seen significant changes to its policies, including increased inspections, requiring permits and making it harder for companies to avoid environmental impact reports.
Environmentalists and timber companies say the Forest Protection Act of 1918 requires the Forest to consider the health of timber and its health effects.
The law does not specifically regulate timber harvest, but has long been used as a guide for regulating other industries such as the transportation of coal, oil and gas.
The agency is expected later this month to send the final draft of the law to Trump for his signature.
This is not the first time the Forest has taken action against the timber industry.
In January 2018, the agency fined Pioneer Timber $1.5 million for failing to follow regulations on its logging.
The agency also fined the company $2.9 million for having insufficiently trained workers.
Pioneer is among dozens of companies that have been fined or ordered to stop logging on federal lands.
Companies also are being asked to increase the amount of time they give employees to spend on projects such as forest cleanup.
Timber companies say they have a mandate to protect the health and safety of forestland from harmful chemicals.
If the Forest approves a proposed logging plan, companies must submit a plan to the Forest by May 31.
That is usually in order to avoid losing any logging permits.