Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute


Isn’t it amazing.

Here’s a forest industry story that has strong echoes here in Tasmania.

It seems the forest industry has the same problems around the world.

and even a Wikipedia entry about this trade dispute:

So what’s the issue?

Well the Canadian lumber industry is unfairly subsidized by federal and provincial governments (just like here in Tassie), as most timber in Canada is owned by the provincial governments (just like here in Tassie). The prices charged to harvest the timber (stumpage fee) are set administratively (just like here in Tassie), rather than through the competitive marketplace, the norm in the United States.

And why are forest product prices in the US set through the competitive marketplace? Because most forests in the US are privately owned and private owners do not want to be competing against stupid anti-trust Governments. They want to get the best price possible for their trees.

And the National and Provincial Governments in Canada refuse to reform their forest industry and open it up to competitive pricing, just like the Tasmanian Government.

And don’t the American’s hate that!

Hence the massive trade dispute!

Here in Tasmania private tree growing is still a bit of a novelty. Until 20 years ago most farmers regarded trees is a liability not an asset. Governments did forestry, not farmers. After the disaster of the failed MIS schemes of the last 20 years we have returned to that same situation – trees as liabilities. And we still have Tasmanian Government policy deliberately discriminating against existing and potential future private tree growers through taxpayer subsidised Administered log pricing. Echoes of failed Government bureaucracy from around the world.

Now I’m not sure what defines “unfair” subsidies? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I just hope the Americans give the Canadians a lesson in economics 101.

Now I wonder how many of those subsidised, anti-trust Canadian forest operations have FSC certification?

And here we are in Tasmania with exactly the same problem, but we don’t have a trade partner like the USA to kick our stupid butt!

A shame really!!


3 responses to “Canada–United States softwood lumber dispute

  1. Hi Rod,
    I wasn’t aware of the PFLA. Thanks! After reading about the turkeys yes we are definitely on the same page. The only difference is you guys have a big nextdoor neighbour (USA) who will eventually knock some sense into the bureaucrats and politicians. Nothing like that here. Just a bunch of bloated protected turkeys running the show.
    Not sure I agree with the logic behind export vs domestic, but otherwise yes we definitely have the same issues.
    That BC has third-party organised forums and seminars is interesting. Nothing like that here. Only politicians and sawmillers are allowed to talk about forestry in Tasmania. Everyone else is deliberately excluded.
    Private forest growers in Tasmania have no voice/representation, and no independent policies so the turkeys have the forest to themselves.
    Only the current FSC certification application by the Government is providing any leverage at all.

    Best of luck,


  2. PS. I especially like the comment about refusal to discuss economics. So very true here in Tasmania. Here the discussion is deliberately restricted to land tenure, log supply and “greenies”. Nothing else! Very unfortunate.


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