UK woodworkers are up in arms over the British government’s subsidizing of the use of virgin wood for biomass. Sounds familiar?
A recent report by the Furniture Industry Research Assn. and the British Furniture Confederation claims that the country’s Renewables Obligation Woody Biomass Subsidy program is driving up wood prices while using wood/wood chips that could otherwise be used for higher-value products. The report calls for the government to limit the amount of domestically sourced wood for biomass to 10 percent, while assessing the impact the subsidies have on woodworking businesses and jobs. According to Green Building Press, since the introduction of British biomass subsidies, wood prices have risen 55.1 percent over the past five years. If this trend continues, it could lead to a loss of 4,400 jobs in the British panel industry.
In this case, the Britains should take a page out of the U.S. Farm Bill and change its qualifying definitions, making ineligible materials that are used for pre-existing markets or for higher-value products, such as composite panels. In addition, the changes that were made by the Farm Services Agency provide incentives for the cultivation of new biomass for new markets, rather than divert the biomass from existing markets.
Had FSA not revised BCAP, it would have created a serious shortage of raw materials for producers of composite panels, and higher prices for those who use them. Which is exactly the what our friends across the pond are facing.
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