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FPAC responds to Trump linking Canadian lumber to U.S. forest fires


August 20, 2018
By Forest Products Association of Canada/P&PC Staff

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August 20, 2018 – The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) has released a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments last week that partly blamed Canadian lumber imports for the forest fires currently raging in California.
 
“First and foremost, our thoughts are with people in Canada and the U.S. who have been displaced from their homes or are on evacuation alert, and with our first responders who are valiantly battling fires on both sides of the border,” said Derek Nighbor, CEO of FPAC.

During a cabinet meeting on August 16, Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said that if the U.S. removed fallen timber from its forest floor, there wouldn’t be as much fuel for a forest fire. “We import lumber in this country, and yet there are billions of board feet that are on the forest floor rotting,” said Zinke. He said that if fallen trees were removed within a year, they would be usable and the U.S. wouldn’t have as much need for lumber imports.

“Especially when Canada is charging us a lot of money to bring their timber down into our country. So ridiculous,” said Trump. “We’re not even talking about cutting down trees…we’re talking about lying on the floor creating a hazard and a tremendous death trap.”

But Nighbor said that Americans are paying higher prices for wood products because of the U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber. “The U.S. simply does not have the milling capacity to meet consumer needs and are only able to satisfy about 75 per cent of American wood demand,” he said. “The U.S. could provide an immediate discount to Americans rebuilding after fires by rescinding tariffs on Canadian lumber, which has increased the cost of lumber by 20 per cent.

“It’s also important to note that the quality of Canadian lumber cannot be matched by burnt California wood recovered after fires. U.S. home builders value the quality, strength and sustainably of Canadian wood and the most important action the U.S. could take to help people rebuild would be to eliminate tariffs.

“In regard to managing forests damaged or destroyed by fire and reducing fuel for future fires, we must work together on both sides of the border with governments and local communities to find solutions to ensure we are keeping communities safe, respecting important environmental values, and driving social and economic opportunities for forestry communities.”

FPAC provides a voice for Canada’s wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $69-billion-a-year forest products industry is one of Canada’s largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 230,000 direct jobs across the country.