LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - During the COVID-19 pandemic, the timber industry has been placed on the front lines, manufacturing many everyday items, like toilet paper and Clorox wipes.
This year the Texas Forestry Association is moving its 106th conference virtual.
It’s not strange to hear about an online conference in 2020, but with many situations this year, it will be a first for those attending.
“Our meeting has never been held virtually before. There’s usually about three days where we have 550 people with vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, raffles, all that kind of fun stuff. As well as a lot of technical expertise in the forestry field,” said Executive Director Rob Hughes.
This year has been shortened to one morning with four speakers and a few meetings the afternoon prior. Hughes said it also says it won’t be as interactive.
“One of the best things about the TFA annual meeting is the in-person networking. People are pretty bummed that we’re not going to be able to do that,” Hughes said. “This year we’re excited to do something new.”
The pandemic has done more than just restructure their annual meeting, Hughes said when the pandemic first hit, housing development stopped and put the brakes on a lot of their work in the mills and from suppliers.
“When framing lumber prices started increasing because of the demand, I think the future speculators saw that as an opportunity and so the price shot through the roof,” Hughes said. “There was record pricing on farming lumber and housing material.”
He said the mills tried to produce as much as they could but between restrictions and infections they were put behind.
“We’re just now starting to catch back up and you see that in the futures price has been dropping back to, still higher than it was this time last year, but more normal for this time of year,” Hughes said.
This year’s conference begins on October 28. To learn more or register, visit www.TFAAnnualMeeting.com