WASHINGTON, DC - The Hardwood Checkoff, an idea which has been under review and debate for nearly five years, has been given a “green light” for further action at the United States Department of Agriculture. The proposed program was published in the Federal Register in November of 2013, opening an extensive public comment period which drew input from hundreds in the hardwood industry. Nearly every hardwood association also featured Checkoff panels at meetings throughout last year to discuss the proposal and answer questions relating to how the program would work.

According to Jamey French, CEO of Northland Forest Products and Outreach Co-chairman for the Hardwood Checkoff Committee, “It is hard to imagine an idea which has been given as much deliberation, discussion and analysis in the hardwood industry. While none of us who joined this Committee ever dreamed the process would take this long, we are pleased that so many have been given a say and brought improvements along the way. USDA has listened, and we are pleased that they remain committed to continuing the pursuit of a Hardwood Checkoff.”

News of USDA’s decision came via a request to the Hardwood Committee to commit to funding the agency’s work on the Hardwood Checkoff for another year.

“We anticipate the next step to be publication of a revised proposal and we hope to see many of the improvements suggested during the comment period” said Jim Howard, CEO of Atlanta Hardwood and Co-Chairman of the Hardwood Checkoff Committee. “Our Committee believes this will bring us closer to the up-or-down referendum vote required to put a Checkoff program in place and we are confident a majority of the industry will join in support. We will continue to reach out to those who have suggestions for changes in the details of the proposal and believe we can find common ground. Certainly we all agree that promotion, research and education programs need to be at the forefront if our industry is to grow and thrive.”

The Hardwood Committee is comprised of leaders of US hardwood companies who have volunteered time and resources to develop and work towards final passage of a Hardwood Checkoff program. Checkoff programs are funded by industry, run by voluntary industry boards, and aimed at expanding markets for commodity products. Checkoffs are in place for over 25 commodities including softwood, paper, cotton, and propane - many having shown demonstrated success for decades.

Source: Hardwood Checkoff Committee

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