East Texas timber harvesters dealing with supply shortages, inflated prices

It has been a difficult year for the lumber industry with supply shortages and the inflated prices that resulted from them.
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 2:01 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2021 at 6:51 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - It’s been a difficult year for the lumber industry with supply shortages, and inflated prices because of it.

It’s been equally challenging for East Texas timber harvesters, trying to find enough lumber to meet demands.

Searching tracts all across East Texas, workers from Shafer Land and Timber are scouting for the hot commodity of lumber.

“We just cannot keep up with the demand that the mills need to keep producing lumber. We’re working from 6 am to 9 p.m. these days,” says owner T.J. Shafer.

Well aware of the stigma attached to land harvesters.

“Loggers in general, timber companies, have a reputation of coming out and raping land and taking whatever they want from it. It’s not that. It’s more than that, it’s building relationships with land owners,” Shafer says.

The pandemic has put pressure on harvesters as well.

“The effects of the pandemic affected the timber industry hard; it shut some of the mills down. A lot of the loggers couldn’t supply that lumber to the mills, they shut down business. There’s a whole lot less of us supplying the mills these days,” T.J. says.

Though there’s a strong need for all timber products, pine saw-logs remain in high demand for harvesters. Building material.

“Merchandisable lumber is lumber that actually has value for their products once is goes to the mill. Pulpwood up to saw-logs,” says Shafer worker Courtney Smith.

But they don’t just take.

Sometimes, even if it’s a loss, they tell landowners to just let it grow.

“We’re trying to build a partnership with the landowner. In three to five years it could go to a medium grade stage where it could almost triple the amount of money back in a landowners pocket,” Smith says.

“We’d be doing them a disservice if we said, ‘yeah we’ll come in here and cut it.’ It’s us building relationships with landowners,” says T.J.

Shafer says if you have land that can be timbered, you should get a logging company to access the value of what can be harvested to determine whether it’s time to harvest, or be given a few more years to grow.

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