Good News for the Lumber Industry: Part 1
Here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber, we realize that at the end of the day, even with a centuries-long reputation for providing both high-quality lumber and supreme customer service, our achievements simply won’t matter if we can’t ensure the legal and responsible harvesting of the lumber that we offer. Thankfully, some new European legislation provides some much-needed guidance in making sure we comply with the sometimes foggy language of the U.S. Lacey Act.
Lacey Act History
In order to appreciate the newest insight that the European Union’s Timber Regulation (EUTR) provides, you need to understand the impact of the Lacey Act on the U.S. lumber industry.
First of all, let’s be clear about one thing: The Lacey Act is not new, and it is generally a very good thing. Enacted in 1900, the Lacey Act is a conservation law prohibiting trade of any fish, wildlife or plants that have been illegally attained, transported, or sold. So the Lacey Act itself is good news for our world and its inhabitants.
However, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 expanded the provisions of the Lacey Act to include a broader range of “protected” plants and plant products. Largely championed by an Oregon senator attempting to protect U.S. lumber jobs, the amendment greatly increased the burden of researching and reporting about lumber origins for all those along the supply chain.
Lacey Act Ramifications
The reality is that this legislation has resulted in higher prices and longer lead times on imported lumber, as well as lessened availability. Such issues with availability are not environmental, though: Sometimes sawmills actually refuse to sell to U.S. importers because of the documentation requirements. As long as sawmills have willing customers with less “red tape” attached to their orders, they’re happy to turn away those trying to meet the requirements of this new(ish) legislation.
Lacey Act Confusion
Broad terms like “due diligence” that were given no guidelines within the legislation added confusion and fear to the already heightened expectations. A term as open to interpretation as “due diligence” certainly begs for clarification!
When Gibson Guitars was raided in 2011, many U.S. lumber suppliers and importers looked on with both trepidation and hope. Our fears were being played out in front of our very eyes. While we realized that any of us could be targeted and had no way of knowing whether what we considered “due diligence” would end up meeting the nebulous standards, we also hoped that the Gibson situation would provide clarification. And it did.
In Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, we’ll look at the specific ways in which fallout from the Gibson Guitar case relates to the issue at hand. In Part 5, we’ll see how the new EUTR legislation is providing further clarity for those who desire both to ensure Lacey Act compliance as well as to avoid a raid of their own.