The Softwood Lumber Board recommended approval on a proposal to increase the assessment rate from $0.35 to $0.41 at its Board meeting held on November 20, 2019. The additional funds would enable the Board to build on its success in maintaining and expanding markets for softwood lumber. For 2016-2018, the Board used reserve funds to bridge the deficit between income and expenses. In 2019, the Board kept expenses in line with income and had to make cuts to its programs, primarily to its communication program.
The mission of the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) is to increase demand for softwood lumber by growing market share for lumber- based products in commercial, residential, and outdoor construction in the United States. We aim to make softwood lumber the preferred building material from both economic and environmental standpoints. Our investments have had significant impact, generating over 7.1 billion board feet since the SLB’s inception and delivering an average ROI of $25 for every $1 spent.
In light of the deficit spending, program cuts, along with the impact of inflation, the Board determined that, without this increase, it would not be able to maintain current programs nor be able to address gaps that limit the Board’s ability to protect existing markets and expand market share for softwood lumber. The additional funds would support programs targeting contractors and developers to address installer training and skills development, establish a post-secondary education program that would target architecture and engineering students, as well as professionals, and restore the Board’s communication program so that by 2025, it would be equivalent to 2018 expenditures. Funds will also provide adequate resources to ensure the successes in increasing market share are not eroded by competitor campaigns designed to slow the progression of wood products.
The comment period ends on October 13, 2020. All comments must be submitted through the Federal e-rulemaking portal at https://beta.regulations.gov/document/AMS-SC-20-0014-0001 and should reference the document number (AMS-SC-20-0014) and the date (August 13, 2020) and page number (p. 49281) of the respective issue of the Federal Register.
SLB Board Members and Softwood Lumber industry have taken the time to share their thoughts on the assessment increase and reflect on the SLB's impact in the industry.