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AEM Forecasts Tough Year for Machinery Manufacturers
According to the annual “outlook” survey of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), the construction equipment manufacturing industry expects continued business declines of 8.6 percent in the United States through year-end 2008, followed by flat growth of 0.04 percent in 2009.

The AEM survey provides a snapshot of construction machinery manufacturers’ predictions for overall year-end 2008 and 2009 business in the U.S., Canada, and worldwide.
Canada is predicted to fare better, with business stabilizing at minus 1.7 percent for 2008, followed by 2.2 percent growth in 2009. Sales to worldwide markets are anticipated to increase 8.5 percent by year-end 2008 and gain 5.4 percent in 2009.

The AEM annual outlook forecast covers 72 different whole machine product types and 19 types of attachments and components, grouped into seven broad categories: earthmoving, lifting, bituminous, concrete and aggregate, light equipment, attachments and components, and miscellaneous equipment.

WWPA Predicts U.S. Financial Crisis Will Delay Recovery Until 2010
The Western Wood Products Association (WWPA) predicts that the historic downturn in lumber demand will likely extend another year until the American financial system and housing market can be repaired.

According to the lumber trade association, lumber demand is expected to drop 15 percent to 44.3 billion board feet this year, then fall another 3 percent to 43 billion board feet in 2009. In just three years, demand for lumber has plummeted by some 20 billion board feet – more than what western mills produced in all of 2005.

Housing starts are forecast to reach just 993,000 in 2008 and decline again to 933,000 next year. Since new housing typically accounts for more than 40 percent of annual lumber demand, the more than 50 percent decline in starts from 2005 has been a body blow to lumber mills.

Production in the West should total almost 14 billion board feet this year, slipping to 13.6 billion board feet in 2009. That would be the lowest annual volume since 1982. Since 2005, output at western mills has declined some 28 percent, or more than 5 billion board feet. A 3.6 percent drop is predicted for 2009.

Canadian imports, which represent more than 90 percent of the volume of imported lumber, are expected to lose market share. Imports from north of the border should total 13.1 billion board feet this year, then fall 3 percent in 2009.

On the bright side, the WWPA forecast calls for housing markets and lumber demand to grow in 2010, but cautions that any recovery will be slow.

AF&PA Supports Industry Role in Renewable Energy
American Forest & Paper (AF&PA) Association president and CEO Donna Harman issued the following statement in support of H.R. 7290, legislation introduced by congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME) that enhances the ability of the forest products industry to benefit from the tax credit for electricity produced from biomass:

“Congressman Michaud deserves praise for both his understanding of the needs of the forest products industry and its workers and his commitment to energy independence. The forest products industry is feeling the effects of the economic downturn just like other industries, and Congressman Michaud’s legislation is an important boost to the industry’s competitiveness. His bill also encourages renewable energy production at a time when there is growing support for clean energy and greater energy independence.”

SFI Launches New Website
In the wake of rapid growth and interest in forest products from certified, well-managed forests and responsible sources of supply, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® Inc. (SFI Inc.) is enhancing its digital presence with the launch of a revamped website,

SFI Inc. president & CEO Kathy Abusow says, “The revamped site will help us share information and build on the increased interest in environmental issues and desire for products from well-managed forests.”

To help consumers and businesses make purchasing decisions, the new website boasts a searchable database for finding certified forest products. The new site also provides a clearer explanation of SFI labels, details on critical forestry research sponsored by SFI-certified organizations and partners, and a lengthy list of useful links.