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Industry News

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Working under the belief that thousands of jobs in hundreds of companies are potentially at stake, representatives of companies that utilize Western Red Cedar, through their trade group, the U.S. Red Cedar Manufacturers Association has presented its case for exemption from any future tariffs or countervailing duties arising from the on-going trade dispute between American timber interests and the Canadian government.
The Association represents remanufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers who depend on Canadian cedar supplies. American timber interests have claimed that Canadians have an unfair trade advantage because they don’t have to pay for the environmental mitigations that American mills are subject to and get their timber subsidized by the government. The Association argues that cedar differs substantially from other species because U.S. supplies of cedar are inadequate to meet their needs.
“This is not an issue of import vs. domestic price but rather simple availability”, said Jim Carlson, president of the Association. Because cedar supplies are so limited, the tariffs will only raise the price of cedar, currently the most popular wood siding material.
As a specialty product priced an average three times higher than most structural softwood lumber, cedar prices would further be unreasonably inflated by tariffs or duties. The U.S. cedar remanufacturing industry first entered the debate back in the 1990’s with arguments similar to the present. On the American timber industry side, the argument is that Canadian cedar IS in direct competition with American grown cedar and redwood and has always been included in past trade agreements. However, in the past, there was more availability of cedar and redwood in the open market than there is now, which is why prices are so high. Cedar also faces more competition from alternative composite wood and other sidings that are less expensive. To further raise cedar prices with artificial tariffs and duties, say the US Red Cedar Manufacturers, would weaken their market position and close many American operations.
The final decision on the countervailing duty is due later this summer as both sides of the border continue the debate and the U.S. International Trade Commission sorts out the facts.

Community Turns Out to Support Mill

EUREKA, MT -- Tons of sawmill logs on long-haul and pickup trucks, cars and in the back of station wagons rolled through the streets of Eureka in May, part of a symbolic message of solidarity within the timber industry and in support of a struggling lumber mill. The local mill had laid off roughly half its work force in January because of soft lumber prices and tight timber supplies.
Organizer Ed Eggleston estimated 4,000 people turned out at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds, roughly three times the population of this Tobacco Valley town. Throughout the day, workers at Owens & Hurst lumber mill unloaded 265 cars, pickups, wagons and other vehicles, plus 26 log trucks.
“The logs will keep the mill busy for a few days, “ said a grateful Jim Hurst. "It's a gesture so kind and overwhelming that I'm not able to express my gratitude," the co-owner of the mill said. Owens & Hurst is the town's largest private employer. "So from one rural American to another, thanks," he said.
Hurst said it was not the volume of delivered timber that was significant. It was the fact most of the loads came on pickup trucks and in cars, delivered by people outside the timber industry, he said.
"That is probably more important than the wood fiber," he said. "What's cool is that it's folks from all walks of life. It's not just a bunch of industry hacks. That's a big difference."
"I honestly think optimism is justified," said Doug Crandall, chief of staff for the U.S. House's subcommittee on forests and forest health. "I honestly believe, that for the first time in a long time, that we've started to turn the corner." Crandall predicted the new Forest Service leadership will be responsive, and predicted this log haul will get the attention of lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

More comments about Canadian cedar

“If Canadians are really the culprits of recent problems of the U.S. lumber industry, why are their company profits suffering at such an alarming rate? Why are other countries making tremendous inroads to our markets? Why have US lumber yards begun stocking S-P-F softwood lumber from Sweden, Russia and Finland? Why are South American pine boards arriving by the boatload? The reason is world economies are making a concerted effort to sell their goods to the largest market on the globe.”
Barry Veristan
Cannon Beach Commodities
Lake Oswego, OR in a letter to Random Lengths June newsletter