By Jimmy Carter:
I agree with the recent decision of the White House and the Commerce Department to impose anti-subsidy duties against Canada’s unfairly traded softwood lumber imports. This belated enforcement of U.S. trade laws will help millions of private timberland owners, American forestry workers and members of their local communities by leveling the playing field in the timber industry.
Timber sales are a major source of income for my own family, and we have suffered financially for many years from an unfair advantage enjoyed by our major competitor in this vital market.
With moderate adjustments in management, there is enough timberland in the United States to supply the total American market with lumber. Without adjusting any U.S. timber policies, and if we are able to compete on a level playing field against Canada, our production of lumber could satisfy more than 84 percent of total U.S. demand, according to Western Woods Products Association data. This would leave the remaining 16 percent to be supplied by imports, but now about 32 percent of our lumber is being imported from Canada.
Canada enjoys an inherent advantage in that the vast majority of its standing timber is owned by provincial governments, which are free to dump their timber at practically no cost to stimulate their forest industry. At the same time, most of America’s timber is privately owned, and market forces impose a minimum price at which farm owners can continue in business.