HARRISBURG – State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) asked Governor Wolf today to reconsider a business shut-down mandate that would impact the agriculture industry.
Mastriano’s request would ensure that sawmills and wood-veneer operations continue to operate during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a “life-sustaining” business list compiled by the Governor, sawmills and wood-veneer were both excluded. Additionally, Mastriano called upon the Governor to lift his ban on wood preservation, plywood production and wood product manufacturing.
“Governor Wolf’s list failed to take into consideration the essential functions that wood product manufacturing provides our state and nation from a vital security perspective,” said Mastriano. “The ban needs to be lifted now before it has a severe impact on our infrastructure.”
“Agriculture needs mills and veneer-support functions,” continued Mastriano, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs panel. “This is especially critical for dairy and livestock farmers. Failure to reconsider this oversight will threaten the safety of our food chain and directly impact agriculture.”
Mastriano noted that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security designated the wood industry as “essential critical infrastructure” Monday and necessary to combat the pandemic. Also, Mastriano pointed out that wood-veneer manufacturers support hospitals throughout the state. “Virtually, all medical buildings rely on veneer products for their facilities,” Mastriano wrote in a letter dated Monday.
Pushback from lawmakers and Pennsylvania residents statewide resulted in the Governor revising the list of “life-sustaining” businesses, as well as a reversal of other mandates, such as the closure of highway rest stops. Similarly, the Pennsylvania Turnpike recently reopened all 17 of its travel plazas at the urging of Mastriano and others.
Mastriano was also one of the first lawmakers to raise concerns about the limited availability of Dept. of Health staff to answer questions from the public, including a hotline that was only open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Health officials later revised their policies to keep a hotline open 24 hours a day, seven seven days a week.
“We all have an obligation to work together during this crisis to protect the people we are elected to serve,” said Mastriano. “I remain committed to working with Governor Wolf and my colleagues in the General Assembly to respond to this crisis strongly and intelligently.”
CONTACT: Scot Andrew Pitzer; firstname.lastname@example.org