Fair Trade Helps Communities in Rural Maine

On a recent trip to Maine, we spoke with some community members. This is what they had to say.

Fair trade supports stable jobs

There are a lot of loggers around here, so the community is very aware of the challenges the lumber industry might face if duties [to offset Canadian lumber subsidies on softwood lumber] were not enforced. There might hardly be a community without it. When people make their money in the woods, their livelihoods depend on a steady paycheck, which can’t be guaranteed without a fair shot. In an uneven market, how are they supposed to compete against unfair trade while also growing and promising stable jobs?

Unless you get a job at a school or the hospital, there just aren’t places to go to work besides the mill. They’re known as having good paying, solid jobs. People depend on it, and it really draws folks to the community who want to make a living.A local community member at Pat’s Pizza in Milo, Maine.

A new mill promotes economic growth in rural communities

Without the duties imposed on unfairly traded softwood lumber from Canada, we wouldn’t be here today. We bought the land in Enfield in 2007 with a vision that we’d one day build a mill here. The duties gave us the certainty of a level playing field in an industry where we have to plan 10, 20 years down the line just to keep up. This peace of mind ensured that we could invest to expand our production in Maine because we were confident in our ability to compete in a fair market. We were able to invest $25 million to expand our production in Maine.

Now, not only can we invest in our own future by implementing new technologies, but we can support our workers in the long-term by providing stability. By this time next year, we will be almost doubling production to 300 million board feet of lumber and adding at least one shift of workers. The duties gave us the momentum we needed.Steve Banahan, Industrial Sales Manager, Pleasant River Lumber, Maine

When there’s more [lumber] industry here, we see a pick-up in everything else. We’ve already noticed a positive impact on our community. More people are stopping by diners like ours and other local businesses because of the new facility and jobs. More jobs mean more people, which mean more commerce and life in the community. Who else would fill our tables?A diner owner in Howland, Maine

An industry requires employees, and those people add color to the community. They spend money in stores, buy homes, eat out at places like this. They might even start a business and bring people along with them. Their kids go to school, and suddenly school enrollment is up and the school has more money to pay for new and better programs. The mill supports these aspects of our community and there wouldn’t be much of a reason to stay without it.A patron at Pat’s Pizza in Milo, Maine.