Washington, DC - After initial confusion within the hardwood industry about the status of the proposed Hardwood Checkoff, the USDA has issued a statement via e-mail to stakeholders clarifying where the process stands. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency reviewing the proposal:

Recently, it appears there may have been some confusion regarding the current status of the proposed research and promotion program for hardwood lumber. To clarify, USDA is still in the process of evaluating the voluminous comments received on the proposed rules for the Hardwood Lumber and Hardwood Plywood Promotion, Research and Information Order and Referendum Procedures. We hope to complete our review shortly. AMS intends to publish any next step in this rulemaking process in the Federal Register, and, if appropriate, provide an opportunity for public comment.

The proposal for the Hardwood Checkoff was published in the Federal Register in November 2013 and the period for comments from the industry closed on February 18, 2014. The projected date of final action by AMS was projected to be May 2014.

Jeff Hanks of Bill Hanks Lumber and Jeff Edwards of Edwards Wood Products, co-chairmen of the US Hardwood Industry Lumber Coalition commented, “We thank AMS for recognizing the need to provide some benchmark to where the process stands. However, based on this recent statement from AMS, it is clear the process has not met its proposed milestones.” They continued, “While the potential for future action is still on the table it is unfortunate the proposal currently remains closed to industry comments.”

The US Hardwood Industry Coalition urges termination of this proposed Checkoff proceeding for the sake of expanding industry input. The Coalition made this request in a December 18, 2014, letter to AMS, which stated in part, “we believe that AMS would want to work with all parties to possibly achieve a new proposal that might be supported by a majority of the industry.” The letter continued, with regard to the February 18, 2014 date when the comment period was officially closed, “If discussion with AMS is precluded, this cannot happen.”

The US Hardwood Industry Coalition is comprised of hardwood lumber manufacturers nationwide who oppose USDA’s most recently published Checkoff proposal.

Source: US Hardwood Industry Coalition

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