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Forest Products Industry

The Minnesota Forest Resources Council recognizes the importance of a healthy, competitive forest products industry for both the maintenance of healthy forests and the economy of Minnesota. Primary and secondary wood consuming mills, loggers, and truckers make up the fifth largest industry in the state.  They provide nearly 68,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, largely in rural Minnesota, with $16.8 billion dollars in gross sales and $7.3 billion dollars in economic benefit within the state of Minnesota.

Forest products industries have faced significant challenges in recent years.  It is truly a global industry. Decisions on mill investments, new construction, and closures are based upon local competitiveness factors compared to other areas of the nation and world.  MFRC was commissioned to conduct a Report on the Competitiveness of Minnesota’s Primary Forest Products Industry (2014).  Among its findings were that Minnesota has relatively high raw material, transportation and industrial energy costs, its forests have low productivity, and it has and aging workforce.  But the state’s sheer abundance of natural forests, access to water and public acceptance of active forest management help the industry remain competitive here.

There is also considerable interest in new technologies for generating biomass-based liquid transportation fuels, biochemicals and electricity from woody feedstocks in the state.  These would use raw materials that are currently in the waste stream, left to decay in the woods, or are a by-product of windstorms, insect outbreaks and wildfires.  These technologies offer a unique opportunity to address climate change by increasing atmospheric carbon absorption, storing carbon in wood products, and replacing fossil fuel-based products with sustainable biogenic materials. 

The Forest Resources Council is actively involved in these policy discussions and encourage consideration of ecological, economic and social sustainability in all decisions. Further information on the forest products industry in Minnesota may be found within recent Governor’s Task Force Reports (2006, 2007) and at the Minnesota DNR, and Minnesota Forest Industries sites.

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