USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a Final Rule, effective August 3, 2011, that established the Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order (the Order), commonly referred to as the Softwood Lumber Checkoff.
The Final Rule states that the Checkoff will be financed by an assessment on softwood lumber domestic manufacturers and importers, and will be administered by a board of industry members selected by the Secretary of Agriculture. The purpose of the program is 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.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted a referendum among eligible U.S. softwood lumber manufacturers and importers from May 23 through June 10, 2011. Sixty-seven percent of those voting, representing 80 percent of the volume of softwood lumber represented in the referendum, favored implementation of the Checkoff.
The 1996 Farm Bill provides an opportunity for a checkoff program with international equity with respect to financial contributions, process, and governance. The Softwood Lumber Checkoff aims to grow markets for softwood lumber and improve cross-border cooperation.
Checkoff programs have been used by agricultural commodities— beef, pork, milk, eggs, etc.—in the U.S. for 50+ years with strong records of perception-changing success. Checkoff programs—which must be agreed to by a majority of industry—are governed by industry but enabled by government through the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
For more information about checkoffs, visit here.