Indiana’s hardwood industry celebrates growth, commitment to sustainability


Indiana’s hardwood industry celebrates growth, commitment to sustainability

Indiana continues to grow and develop its largest agricultural sector, the hardwood industry.

Ray Moistner is the executive director of Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association.

“The sector is 31 percent of the state’s agricultural economy,” he says. “There are over 70,000 jobs that contribute over $10 billion annually to the state’s economy and it’s a big deal.”

Audio: Ray Moistner

Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says the industry is critical to the state.

“Indiana is a great agriculture state and I didn’t know very much about hardwoods when I began this role, but I quickly learned about it and its importance,” he says. “It’s a large industry in terms of dollars and impacts. What’s interesting to me is that it also parallels our agriculture, whether that’s crops or livestock production. How they think about growing a crop– trees –the way they manage and think about their business is very similar to what we see throughout the agriculture industry.”

Audio: Bruce Kettler

Moistner says that support has been helpful.  

“We’re very thankful to director Kettler and those in the Indiana State Department of Agriculture who came before him for recognizing that hardwoods are a crop,” he says. “We are just a slower growing crop, and we are the most patient farmers.”  

The success of the industry is being highlighted this week at the 124th Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association Convention and Expo and downtown Indianapolis.

Moistner says it’s important for people to understand IHLA’s mission of providing a sustainable and affordable supply of quality North American hardwoods for the public good.

“These are businesses that have been around the state for generations, and sometimes they are 6-7 generations of family businesses. So, it’s really important to get the message out there of sustainability and that these people are here because their future depends on there always being trees in the forest and us always planting more than we harvest,” he says.

The Tree Farmer breakfast this morning recognized the boots on the ground that make sure that happens, he says. The Logger of the Year, Tree Farmer of the Year, Tree Farm Inspector of the Year, and the Outdoor Lab of the Year were recognized.

Moistner says Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s’ Association members are stewards of the precious natural resources that are hardwoods and they’ll always take care of forests and make sure they’re here for generations to come. Forests in the state continue to grow and now cover 24 percent of the state land base.