In his recent address to Maine, Gov. Paul LePage recently made the accusation that corporate greed from U.S. lumber producers is causing “skyrocketing” lumber prices. This is illogical and irresponsible.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and we feel it is our responsibility to defend our industry from our governor’s false claims. Worse yet, he used the devastation of the recent hurricanes to call for a Canada-first trade policy, risking the jobs of hundreds of thousands of American workers.
We run four lumber mills in Maine that directly employ more than 300 people and indirectly support thousands of workers throughout the state. Some of the mills we purchased were destined to be sold for scrap steel. We have done our best to make these facilities competitive and have invested more than $50 million in the last decade on modernization projects to ensure we can at least maintain our employment levels.
It is bothersome to hear our governor promote such inaccurate information and attack individual companies that, like we do, provide good-paying jobs and economic growth throughout the country.
For decades, the U.S. softwood lumber industry has dealt with Canada’s unfair trade practices. Canadian lumber mills receive substantial subsidies often in the form of low fees to harvest trees from publicly owned land, an unfair trading practice that puts U.S. lumber mills at a significant competitive disadvantage. In this environment, U.S. mills struggle to maintain production and employment levels even though we have the capacity and desire to grow and add more jobs.
Canada and its allies are spreading the myth that the U.S. industry cannot meet the demand needed for our country. The U.S. industry has proven it can produce more; the 2005 level of U.S. production would satisfy 84 percent of today’s lumber demand. If not for unfair trade, mills like ours would be able to grow…