WITH no government help, North East log processors would be losing money before wood got to mills, an industry leader said.
That was the situation the timber industry had been left in after fires last summer ravaged plantations in the Upper Murray and south of Myrtleford, HVP chief operating officer Rob Hescock said.
"We'd lose money just getting the timber to the mill, it would shutdown some of the processors it was that serious."
Fortunately for Mr Hescock and other timber companies, such as Wangaratta's Alpine MDF, Myrtleford's Carter Holt Harvey and D&R Henderson, of Benalla, the federal and Victorian governments have announced help.
From Canberra there's $40 million for a fund to aid innovation in mills to manage the impact of the fires on wood supply and $10 million to set up storage for fire-hit logs and processed products.
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The help followed a joint submission of the North East business operators and industry representatives.
Mr Hescock said salvaging of timber from areas such as Shelley was continuing in hope of a government rescue and without it hundreds of jobs may have gone.
"We've been proceeding in good faith we'd get some help, if not we would be very financially disadvantaged," he said.
"It's a smart move by the government to back us because it's regional jobs and the last thing they want is to lose regional jobs."
Mr Hescock also had praise for member for Indi Helen Haines, saying "she has been a trojan, she's been relentlessly supporting us, she's been terrific".
Dr Haines noted the high number of workers.
"There are around 550 people who work in timber mills in Indi, like Carter Holt Harvey in Myrtleford, D&R Henderson and Benalla Timber Products in Benalla, and Alpine MDF in Wangaratta," Dr Haines said.
"And there's another 340 plantation jobs in Myrtleford, Shelley and Benalla."
Mr Hescock said there was potentially 1.3 million tonnes of timber that could be salvaged from 6000 hectares of plantations affected by fires in Victoria.
The trees all need to be 14 years or older, with those younger written-off as unusable.
There are added costs for processing with the burnt timber dulling saws and requiring greater cleaning of knives and chippers.
Mr Hescock said there was also environmental concerns given the impact of the fire on soil, with drainage works needed to stop its loss into the Murray River.