U.S.-Canada Lumber Dispute’s Collateral Damage: Private Forest Owners

By NTK Staff | 07.17.2017 @4:43pm
U.S.-Canada Lumber Dispute’s Collateral Damage: Private Forest Owners

The U.S. levied a temporary tariff on all Canadian softwood lumber imports, but that ruling is adversely affecting private businesses…

Arguing that the Canadian government is keeping softwood lumber prices artificially low, the U.S. government announced a 20 percent tariff or duty on imports in April.

The target of the tariff was lumber harvested from government owned lands, particularly in British Columbia, but private woodlot owners are feeling the consequences.

The Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners (CFWO) represents 455,000 lot owners who are asking for an exemption from the U.S.’s duties.

“The management of private forests in Canada is absolutely not at issue in the softwood lumber dispute between the U.S. and Canada and should not be the cause of any grumbling,” CFWO President Peter deMarsh said. “Indeed, our management model is very close to the one in the United States and embodies the very essence of U.S. demands and aspirations, although, paradoxically, Canadian woodlot owners are suffering collateral damage in the conflict in the form of reduced sales and lower prices. Our proposed solution is cogent and coherent: the model that we live by is the same one found in the United States.”

No site exemplifies the CFWO’s situation better than Twin Rivers Paper Co., a Canadian mill located in New Brunswick that is linked, literally, to a large paper mill in Madawaska, Maine.

The duties levied by the U.S. would “drastically increase the cost of the wood chips and biomass” used at the Maine facility, and “have the potential to destroy” thousands of jobs in Maine, as a result, Twin Rivers’ president argued.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has traveled to Washington, D.C. to make the provinces’ case for an exemption from duties. The Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and New Brunswick had been exempted from duties since 1982. New Brunswick recently lost its exemption, and in at least one case at Twin Rivers, it’s putting U.S. jobs at stake.

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