Good News for the Lumber Industry: Part 2
When you understand the history of the Lacey Act, the ramifications of the 2008 amendment for the U.S. lumber industry, and the confusion stemming from the foggy language included in it, you may be tempted to jump ship and use inferior composite building materials instead of the premium tropical hardwoods we all know and love.
Before you take any drastic measures, know that confusion is giving way to clarification — albeit from unlikely sources. The first is an official Lacey Act Compliance Program, put into effect for Gibson Guitars in the wake of the 2011 raid by federal marshals and criminal investigation of the guitar giant.
One of the provisions of the settlement between Gibson Guitars and the Department of Justice is the first official Lacey Act Compliance Program. The 7 steps of “The Gibson Guitar Lacey Act Compliance Program,” while not officially part of the original Lacey Act legislation, can be instructive for others in the industry attempting to evaluate their own compliance attempts. (The language has been slightly altered to broaden the scope to being broadly applicable to many companies.) Under each step, we will expand on how we fleshed out such specifications for our own lumber business.
Step 1: Communicate with suppliers about policies in place to determine any challenges the supplier may have in implementing the policies and work with the supplier to solve the issue.
For us at J. Gibson McIlvain, clearly communicating our policies and expectations has been a long-time ingredient in our ongoing relationships with foreign sawmills. We also require our suppliers to communicate with us about any issues or changes that come up with local laws that may impact our compliance with the Lacey Act or our general standards of responsible and legal harvesting and trade — not to mention the kind of quality lumber products that meet our high standards. They know we require careful documentation in place.
Step 2: Ask questions to find as much information as possible regarding the supplier and origin of wood-based products, using a comprehensive Legal Compliance Procurement Checklist to determine whether the product meets the minimum requirements for known/legal wood products.
While many of our overseas suppliers have proven themselves throughout the decades, new suppliers must prove themselves consistently. This expands beyond quality and grade to include documentation regarding source, land concessions, forestry management, and export information. For any pricing, grade, or availability fluctuations, they know we will be asking about contributing factors, including (but not limited to) changes in lumber source or sawing procedures.
As you are probably starting to realize, here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber, we’ve appreciated the legislation resulting from the Gibson case for its ability to provide added assurance that we’re safe in continuing to do what we’ve been doing all along.
In Part 3, we’ll continue to analyze the steps in Gibson’s compliance plan and compare them to our own in-house system here at J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber.