Earlier this week, NLBMDA submitted written comments to the Senate Committee on Finance and House Committee on Ways and Means urging the Biden administration and Congress to prioritize and resolve the ongoing softwood lumber agreement dispute with Canada. Both committees hosted U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai for hearings on the Biden administration’s trade agenda for 2021.
NLBMDA called on Ambassador Tai to return to the negotiation table with Canada and sign a new Softwood Lumber Agreement that brings long-term certainty and stability to the lumber market. In addition, NLBMDA urged Congress to continue to pressure the Biden administration on the status of negotiations in the coming weeks.
While not the primary cause of price volatility, NLBMDA remains concerned about the impact trade barriers to a free market, such as duties, are having on the North American lumber market. Resolving the softwood lumber dispute is particularly urgent as our economy continues to experience far-reaching economic effects. According to estimates by the National Association of Home Builders, lumber prices have risen 300% since April of 2020 and the price of an average new single-family home has increased by more than $36,000.
NLBMDA has been in contact with Secretary Raimondo and her office expressed a willingness to meet with NLBMDA to discuss these issues. Specifically, NLBMDA will be meeting directly with Secretary Raimondo’s chief counselor to express the concerns of the LBM industry. In March, NLBMDA had sent a letter to the Department of Commerce which reiterated our members’ concerns with ongoing price volatility and urged the Administration to pursue a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada.
In April, NLBMDA hosted LBM Advocacy Week where dealers from across the country met virtually with their Members of Congress and pressed them on the issue of housing affordability and softwood lumber. NLBMDA has also created a grassroots action alert which allows members to easily contact their elected officials in Congress to urge them to send a letter to the Biden administration on the softwood lumber agreement.
Due to the awareness being raised by NLBMDA and its coalition partners, concerns regarding a new Softwood Lumber Agreement and lumber price volatility are starting to gain traction on Capitol Hill. Yesterday, Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a bipartisan letter to Ambassador Tai and Secretary Raimondo urging the Administration to resolve the softwood lumber dispute with Canada as soon as possible.