DULUTH — In the wake of the pandemic, inflation has continued to affect businesses across all sectors, including the forest products industry. As the fifth-largest manufacturing industry in Minnesota, logging has a $9.9 billion annual direct impact on the state’s economy, with a total output of $16.8 billion, according to the “2020 Economic Contribution Study of Minnesota Agriculture and Forestry” compiled by AgriGrowth. While it also ranks among the top five economic sectors in the Lake States Region, the forest products industry faces new challenges in adapting to a higher cost of doing business due to inflation. These issues are compounded by an aging workforce, market declines and harvests stalled by higher winter temperatures. According to professionals, logging is less viable now than it was pre-pandemic. “Every sector is being impacted, and when that happens, you have less markets to bring your timber to,” Tim O’Hara said.