WASHINGTON – The timber industry in the Midwest is quite supportive of the Trump administration’s plans to implement a tariff averaging 20 percent on certain types of lumber imported from Canada.
The industry in both Minnesota and Wisconsin has struggled since 2008 when the housing crash sharply decreased demand for lumber, reports the Pioneer Press.
Reviving a dispute dating back to the 1980s, the Trump administrations said that the Canadian federal and provincial governments charge below market rates for harvesting timber on public lands. This is tantamount to a direct subsidy that puts U.S. lumber producers at a disadvantage.
The Pioneer Press reports that Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said that the tariffs will hurt people in both countries, including American homebuyers who will pay more for wood. Canada denies that its lumber trade practices are unfair.
Previously the United States and Canada had an agreement limiting the amount of lumber that could be imported from Canada. That agreement expired in 2015, resulting in an unfettered flow of wood into the United States. Regional industry organizations are welcoming the tariffs as a result.
“It’s about time. This will be good for Minnesota and the timber industry. It’s been frustrating to the timber industry for years to see full rail cars heading south from Canada,” Scott Dane, executive director of the Gilbert-based Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of Minnesota, told the Pioneer Press.
Dane told the Pioneer Press that Minnesota has seen seven major mills close up shop since the 2008 housing collapse. Now less than 1,500 people work directly in the logging industry, down 20 to 30 percent.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday that the tariffs will range from three percent to 24 percent depending on the manufacturer, reports the Pioneer Press. With the U.S. importing an estimated $5.66 billion worth of softwood lumber from Canada, the tariffs will come to over $1 billion.