Montana delegation calls for new Softwood Lumber Agreement
(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Ryan Zinke are working together with Montana’s neighbor to the north to ensure the state’s lumber mills are treated fairly.
Montana’s Congressional delegation today sat down with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer to urge him to begin negotiating a new Softwood Lumber Agreement. The agreement expired on October 12 and is creating uncertainty for mills in Montana and across the country. The delegation requested that the Canadians come to the table to hammer out a deal to avoid future litigation and take current market conditions into account.
Barring a new agreement, Montana’s mills are not guaranteed fair market competition in part due to concerns with how Canada prices raw materials. The recently expired Softwood Lumber Agreement placed export duties and volume restrictions on Canadian lumber when prices fall below a certain level, which helped to level the playing field between American and Canadian mills. Now that this agreement has expired, these duties are no longer in effect
“Montana’s timber industry and our forested communities need a new Softwood Lumber Agreement to provide long-term certainty to help grow our state’s economy,” Tester said. “Senator Daines, Congressman Zinke and I all understand the importance that our timber mills play in improving the health of our forests. Renewing this agreement will strengthen the timber industry and the livelihood of Montana families.”
“I appreciate Ambassador Doer taking time to meet with Montana’s Congressional delegation and hope that Canada will quickly resume negotiations with the United State on this important agreement,” Daines stated.“The expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement further exacerbates the timber supply crisis facing Montana’s mills and our forest communities’ economic hardships. It’s vital that a new agreement is reached and that comprehensive forest management reforms are also put in place to provide long-term certainty for our timber industry and forest counties.”
“I’m grateful to the Ambassador for accepting my invitation to meet with Senators Tester and Daines and me about this longstanding partnership. Montana loggers and timber communities are already facing enough threats to their livelihoods, negotiating the Softwood Lumber Agreement should not be one of them,” said Rep. Zinke. “Senators Tester and Daines and I stand in full support of renewing the Agreement because it will help protect jobs in Montana by providing certainty and a fair playing field for our loggers. Montanans can compete with anyone in the world, but it’s important we start with an equal playing field.”