USDA to hold May 23-June 10 referendum on creating softwood lumber marketing order

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 22 - The Department of Agriculture announced Friday it will conduct a referendum to see if domestic softwood lumber manufacturers and importers favor a proposed new national Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order. Softwood lumber is used in products such as flooring, siding and framing materials.

The voting period will be May 23 to June 10, 2011. To be eligible to vote, domestic softwood lumber manufacturers and importers must have manufactured and/or imported 15 million board feet or more of softwood lumber from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2010. Ballots will be mailed to all known domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber on or before May 16, 2011. Ballots must be received by the referendum agents no later than close of business on June 10, 2011. The program will be implemented if it is favored by a majority of those voting in the referendum who also represent a majority of the volume of softwood lumber represented in the referendum.

An 18 or 19 member board would administer the order. The board would be responsible for carrying out activities intended to strengthen the position of softwood lumber in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for softwood lumber and develop new uses for softwood lumber within the United States.

Domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber would pay an assessment of up to 50 cents per thousand board feet, with the initial assessment rate being 35 cents per thousand board feet. Smaller manufacturers and importers handling less than 15 million board feet annually would be exempt from paying assessments. Exports of domestic softwood lumber would also be exempt. Additionally, domestic manufacturers and importers would not pay assessments on the first 15 million board feet of lumber shipped during a fiscal year.

The announcement of a referendum on creating a softwood lumber marketing order comes less than a month after two earlier referenda led USDA to announce that it is ending the marketing order programs for California nectarines and peaches. USDA considers termination if less than a two-thirds majority of growers voting, by number and production volume, favor continuance. In the nectarine referendum, 63% of nectarine growers, who produced 36% of the volume represented in the referendum, favored continuance. For peaches, 62% percent of peach growers, who produced 36% of the volume, favored continuance. In a third referendum, 94% of pear growers, representing 99% of the volume, favored continuance. The nectarine order has been in effect since 1958, and the combined peach and fresh pear order has been in effect since 1939.

Copies of the proposed softwood lumber order may be obtained from the Referendum Agent, Research and Promotion Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 0632-S, Stop 0244, Washington, DC 20250-0244; telephone: (202) 720-9915, (888) 720-9917 (toll free) or (503) 632-8848; or facsimile: (202) 205-2800; or can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov. Or for the April 22 Federal Register notice, click HERE.

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