August 18, 2020

Proposed Increased Assessment Rate Under the Softwood Lumber Checkoff

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a proposal to increase the assessment rate under the Softwood Lumber Checkoff from $0.35 to $0.41 per thousand board feet, or by $0.06 cents. Please see the link to the proposal that was published August 13, 2020, in the Federal Register.

The Softwood Lumber Board recommended approval 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.

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 Board administers the Softwood Lumber Checkoff with oversight by USDA. Under the program, assessments are collected from U.S. manufacturers (sawmills) and importers and used for projects designed to increase the demand for softwood lumber within the United States. The Board promotes market growth for softwood lumber products used in single and multifamily dwellings, as well as commercial construction.

A 60-day period is provided for public comment on the proposal. The comment period ends on October 13, 2020. All comments must be submitted through the Federal e-rulemaking portal at 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.

USDA will analyze the comments received and, if warranted, publish a final rule in the Federal Register implementing the change.

Please contact Cees de Jager at (425) 502-6967 or via email at if you have any questions. You may also contact Andrea Ricci at USDA; (202) 572-1442; via email at

Learn More

Click here to download the proposed rules.