Sawmill shutdown expected to have negative ripple effect

The temporary closure of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest sawmill is expected to have a ripple effect beyond the forest sector.

Sexton Lumber lays off 79, expects to be closed at least 4 to 6 weeks

The temporary shutdown of the province's largest sawmill in Bloomfield is already having a negative ripple effect. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's largest sawmill has temporarily shut its doors.

The heavy equipment at Sexton Lumber in Bloomfield is idle, and all 79 employees have been laid off.

Owner Kevin Sexton said he saw the log shortage coming. 

Sexton had asked government to free up some timber in central Newfoundland, part of the former Abitibi wood supply. The forest has been untouched since the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor closed four years ago.

Sexton said his request was denied.

In a statement, the Department of Natural Resources expects the shutdown to last two to three weeks. Government said while they value Sexton Lumber,  the forest in central Newfoundland isn't on the table.

"I have no issue with them inviting other companies to the province to process wood or whatever, as long as it doesn't impact existing industry, like it's doing now," Sexton said.

Owner Kevin Sexton says he expects the sawmill will be closed for at least four to six weeks. (CBC)

Sexton Lumber estimates they will be closed for at least four to six weeks, which might have an effect beyond the forest industry.

Most dairy and poultry farms in eastern Newfoundland utilize wood shavings from the sawmill as bedding materials for livestock. 

Dairy farms can use up to a truckload of Sexton Lumber's shavings every week.

Several dairy farmers spoke with CBC, indicating they're worried what will happen when they run out. They said they might have to truck in shavings from the mainland — at a huge expense.

The farmers said the extra transportation costs could affect the price of milk and chicken.

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