The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced recently that it will conduct a referendum to determine if domestic softwood lumber manufacturers and importers approve the implementation of a proposed new national Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order.

Voting will run from May 23 to June 10, 2011. To be eligible to vote, domestic softwood lumber manufacturers and importers must have manufactured and/or imported 15 million board feet or more of softwood lumber during the representative period from January 1 through December 31, 2010, according to the USDA. Ballots will be mailed to all known domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber on or before May 16, 2011. Ballots must be received by the referendum agents no later than close of business on June 10, 2011. The program will be implemented if it is favored by a majority of those voting in the referendum, which also represent a majority of the volume of softwood lumber represented in the referendum.

An 18 or 19 member board would administer the order, adds the USDA. The board would be responsible for carrying out activities intended to strengthen the position of softwood lumber in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for softwood lumber and develop new uses for softwood lumber within the United States.

Domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber would pay an assessment of up to 50 cents per thousand board feet, with the initial assessment rate being 35 cents per thousand board feet. Smaller manufacturers and importers handling less than 15 million board feet annually would be exempt from paying assessments. Exports of domestic softwood lumber also would be exempt. Additionally, domestic manufacturers and importers would not pay assessments on the first 15 million board feet of lumber shipped during a fiscal year.


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