The National Lumber and Building Materials Dealer Association (NLBMDA) filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding a proposed softwood lumber research, promotion, consumer education and industry information order. The association's comments supporting the purpose of the program, but argued that the impact the proposed assessments will have on the current recovering and future residential construction markets should also be reviewed.
"NLBMDA observed that the residential market will continue to be the largest consumer of softwood lumber and therefore will have to absorb the cost of assessments that will be passed on from the manufacturers and importers," according to a statement from the association. "We also argued that the lumber retail and distribution sector should have a role in the governance of the proposed program. We noted that our sector plays an essential role in the placement of softwood lumber in the construction and retail markets."
The program would be modeled after other agricultural check-off programs as authorized under the 1996 Farm Bill and would seek to create almost the same type of product hype as the "Got Milk?" campaign put on by milk producers. The program's purpose would be to strengthen the position of softwood lumber in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for softwood lumber, and develop new uses for softwood lumber. The program would be financed by an assessment on softwood lumber domestic manufacturers and importers and would be administered by a board of industry members selected by the Secretary of Agriculture. The initial assessment rate would be 35 cents per thousand board feet of softwood lumber shipped within or imported to the United States. A referendum would be held among eligible domestic manufacturers and importers to determine whether they favor the program prior to it going into effect.