LETTER: Lumber, forestry industry is in crisis

Parties need to work together to stop closure of lumber mills one by one

The ongoing lumber and forestry crisis in B.C. is now at levels that are unprecedented in its history. This industry at one time was B.C.’s economic driver but now it struggles to keep up economically, even compared to the B.C. motion picture industry.

Between bad policy, fluctuating markets and the U.S. International Trade Commission(USITC) claims of Canada dumping lumber at less than fair market value, we have undermined our industry and set ourselves up for continuous disruption.

READ MORE: B.C. forest industry facing uncertain future as mills close across province

READ MORE: Stumpage rates result in job losses for 50 Fraser Valley employees including in Chilliwack

In fact, since 1982 we’ve gone through five separate rounds of litigation with the USITC. After the lapse of the last agreement in 2016, the USITC found that there was a reasonable claim that softwood was being dumped on the U.S. market.

Now because of the tariffs imposed, our lumber manufacturers can no longer compete, as we watch our lumber mills fall one by one.

Ironically, raw logs have become our biggest forestry market export; the tariff only applies to manufactured lumber. So we allow American-owned companies to export raw logs with no tariffs, apparently at less than fair market value, then manufacture them in the U.S. What’s wrong with this picture?

READ MORE: See the latest letters, columns and editorials at The Progress Opinion

Now to add insult to injury, enter a U.S. president who in 2017 slapped 20-per-cent tariffs on Canadian lumber exports. This was the beginning of the end for the B.C. lumber industry.

The greatest amount of preventable damage that created this disaster was perpetuated by past provincial governments. We essentially gave up our responsibility of forest management in the mid 1970s. We’ve given that responsibility to the loggers. So basically, the wolf is watching the henhouse.

Of course, no political entity wishes to take any responsibility. All the problems are preventable and repairable, if governments would just remove their personal agendas and work in a nonpartisan way.

Art Green


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