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U.S. lumber output down 24%
The Western Wood Products Assoc-iation reported in January that U.S. lumber production through October totaled 19.473 billion board feet, down 24.0 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2008.
The West fared only marginally better than the south. During that 10-month period, the West was down 23.5% compared to January-October 2008. Production in the South was off 24.4%. October production nationwide totaled 1.935 billion feet, down 1.2% from September and off 22.6% from the October 2008 total.
New Coalition for Wood Products to Bring Companies and Associations Together
A new, national coalition, formed under the American Wood Council (AWC), will provide an organizational structure for wood products companies and associations to work together on building codes and standards, green building policy issues, and federal and state environmental regulations affecting manufacturers.
“U.S. wood products companies are under pressure from the economy, environmental regulations, and competing materials,” said Robert Glowinski, AWC Executive Director. “By working with our allied association partners, we seek to expand our force and effectiveness by ensuring that we reflect the full range and diversity of America’s wood products industry.”
AF&PA Supports Efforts to Improve National Forest Health
American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) applauded new legislation to improve the health of U.S. forests, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act Amendments of 2009, which were introduced by Representatives Greg Walden [R-OR], Stephanie Herseth Sandlin [D-SD], Kurt Schrader [D-OR], Brian Baird [D-WA], and Cathy McMorris Rodgers [R-WA].
“Every effort must be taken to maximize the health of our forests,” said AF&PA President and CEO Donna Harman. “Active forest management, including aggressive thinning, which produces usable wood fiber, is critical to the health of our forests and to the wood using industry which depends on them.”
She added, “The Healthy Forest Restoration Act Amendments of 2009 expand the use of forest management strategies that have proven successful when used by the Forest Service in the past. Focusing and increasing the use of these efforts to the forests at the greatest risk of catastrophic fire will help improve forest health, and it will also help sustain the nearly one million forest products jobs in our nation’s rural communities.”
Wood products companies from across the nation agree on the need to work together.
Steve Zika, President and CEO of Hampton Affiliates in Portland, Ore., said, “In the face of broad upcoming challenges to our industry, no single company can achieve the changes necessary to ensure a level playing field. It is absolutely essential that we work together and overcome these challenges together as an industry.”
The Coalition will focus on a narrow set of issues to maximize advocacy efforts before key code and policymaking bodies. It will work with state and regional associations, who can also become members, in order to maximize its leverage and effectiveness.
The coalition began forming in August and has received participation commitments from over 40 companies representing more than 50 percent of lumber production, 70 percent of structural panel production, and 60 percent of engineered wood products. The launch date is expected to be early 2010.
Coalition Stops IRS Drive to Deny Log Truck Tax Exemption
A coalition of allied associations -- American Loggers Council (ALC) -- defeated an Internal Revenue Service attempt to deny the 25% exemption in Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) for log trucks.
ALC’s Danny Dructor and FRA’s Richard Lewis issued a joint statement noting, “This is a prime example of how the forestry and logging association community is prepared to take cooperative, quick, and decisive action when its members are treated unfairly or materially harmed.”
In 1984, FRA worked with Ed Ehlers, the former Executive Director of the Associated California Loggers, and other state logging associations to achieve a 25% reduction in the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) for log trucks. This reduction was enacted into law because the forestry and logging association community was collectively able to convince Congress that log and pulpwood trucks travel unloaded more than 50% of the time.
In 2008, IRS agents started denying the 25% HVUT reduction to log trucking firms in South Carolina and Virginia, and they were set to expand. Initially FRA started work by contacting senior staff in the Department of theTreasury National Office. ALC and the state logging associations tackled the issue by contacting the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Service. All of the associations soon joined forces and worked through the IRS Taxpayer Advocacy Service and won the case with the IRS.
Those logging firms that had been denied the 25% reduction in HVUT have been counseled to file for refunds of assessments and penalties. In some cases, these refunds exceed $30,000.
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