September 15, 2015: The most recent Public Comment period for the proposed USDA “Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research, and Information Order” also known as the “Hardwood Checkoff” ended on September 9, 2015 with over 1,300 comments from industry, associations, individuals, and businesses.
The proposed changes would result in funding being cut from an estimated $10 million down to a $3-$4 million program. The most notable recent alterations to the program would reduce the program from the original 1,426 mills to a reduced focus on 375 mills selling kiln-dried lumber. Those mills in the program would face an assessment of $.50 cents per $1,000 in sales, and mills under $2 million in revenue would be exempted.
Recycled and new pallet manufacturers, who source their wood from suppliers, would not be directly affected by the most recent iteration of the Hardwood Checkoff, “Industrial lumber would as defined would not include products which remain in board or block form such as ties, cants, crane mat material and pallet stock or products which are transformed from boards or blocks of lumber into other products such as furniture, tight cooperate, cabinetry, and constructed pallets”. There is concern that costs would be transferred to downstream users and NWPCA submitted comments noting the concerns of our members to the ambiguity regarding this exclusion issue. NWPCA also is concerned that, “exempt manufacturers would still be required to keep records” and would be an added cost of doing business for smaller businesses.
The next step is for USDA to finalize review of the comments, issue a final proposal, and announce a referendum vote.