It’s not entirely rare for me to get calls from reporters. It tends to happen locally when either our company or the collaborative that I’m a part of is in the news. I enjoy the opportunity to tell the story. If you’ve ever been quoted in the newspaper, you start to see very quickly that the news is often based on how the reporter either interprets what you said or how that reporter wanted to use what you said to support their slant on the story. After writing this blog, I have a new appreciation for creating content. It must be a difficult task to do every day with a deadline. There are times, once in a while, where you see a reporter that is either in a hurry or just has decided not to do their homework.
That happened to me the other day. I received a call from a reporter from a newspaper in Montana. I’ve done a considerable amount of work in Montana and know the state pretty well. The reporter said that he had been following a blog that has subsequently picked up some of my writings. Then he said something that caught my attention, but I didn’t immediately think much of it. He said he was doing a year-end article on forest products companies “down here” in Montana. I thought it was funny, as I live in Washington. Although where he was located in the state was geographically southeast of where I’m from it’s still not the way I’d expect to hear it described. He went on to say a few things about the forests and lumber trade. Then he said it.
Reading more about what the experts from both sides of the border are saying about the Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) I see common threads. If you read the Canadian take, you see that governments of Canada, Provinces, in particular, are doing whatever they can to support their mills. This is evidenced by Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard stating that the provincial government is prepared to provide Canadian lumber companies with loan guarantees. I don’t fault them. Actually, I think it’s great. They should support them. One thing I don’t hear is the empathy for similar situations that have been going on in communities on the south side of the political line.
Following last week’s post, I’ve had time to think about this issue. There are so many parts to the SLA (acronym insiders use). Some of which can be addressed in an agreement and much of it that cannot. It’s been my opinion for some time that the Canadian producers get hit with this duty because the US Government can’t get out of its own way. Think about it. The US Government has to impose a duty and/or quota system to protect US mills from lower pricing pressure. In many cases because the mills don’t have an affordable supply of logs. And in many areas, not even enough logs to run a mill. Isn’t interesting that now the US Forest Service is now trying to figure out what to do with logs in many market areas?
Let’s contrast how the two countries operate their respective Forest Industries:
A publication asked me to provide some comments, anonymously about the pending Softwood Lumber agreement between the US and Canada. I include what I provided, and I’m going to add some of my ideas that might make a better solution than anything I hear from other sources. I hope this helps enlighten some people on the subject.
Vaagen Bros Lumber has production facilities on both sides of the border with mills in Colville and Usk Washington as well as Midway BC, Canada. The reason this issue is complicated is due to the raw material: Logs. Even though the Canadian process is more open and competitive than ever when it comes to logs, Canadian producers still have an advantage over most of the US producers. That advantage is that the Canadian government continues to manage its forests through up and down markets. The price for those logs follows the market up and down, but for the most part, the flow of logs is maintained.Continue reading “Softwood Lumber Agreement”