Lumber Tariffs Increasing Cost of the American Dream
by Judie Docs, Executive Officer, North Coast BIA, CSP, MCSP, CGP, CMP, MIRM
Are you searching for a new home and struggling to find one you can afford? You may be surprised to learn one of the main reasons for today’s increasing home costs: the price of many types of framing lumber used to construct new homes has skyrocketed by more than 40% since the beginning of last year.
In fact, rising lumber prices – made worse by U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber – have added thousands of dollars to the price of an average new home. This is making it much more difficult for millions of Americans to be able to afford to purchase a home of their own.
It’s important to understand how we got here so that necessary changes can be made to provide home builders with access to reasonably priced lumber and allow more families to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
The fact is that domestic lumber production has not met our country’s demand for the past 50 years. Today that means the United States must import about a third of the lumber we need. And more than 90% of our lumber imports come from Canada.
Even so, domestic lumber producers last year convinced the Commerce Department to impose tariffs averaging more than 20 percent on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States. U.S. lumber companies claimed they were at a competitive disadvantage from Canadian lumber companies. When in reality, domestic lumber production does not meet our demand. And the increasing lumber prices are unfairly benefiting lumber companies at the expense of American families and small businesses. That’s the real disadvantage.
The United States must return to the negotiating table with Canada to reach a new softwood lumber trade agreement that is fair not only to U.S. and Canadian lumber companies, but also to the other industries and consumers that are impacted by lumber prices.
But that’s just the beginning. Since domestic lumber production cannot meet demand, it’s also important that the United States find ways to boost domestic production. This includes opening up additional federal forest lands for logging in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Another solution is to reduce U.S. lumber exports. Despite the fact that there is a huge gap between U.S. lumber supply and demand, domestic producers are selling to China and other countries in order to increase their profits. This practice should be discouraged until we can meet domestic demand.
Home builders and home buyers should no longer suffer because of federal government policies that aim to protect one industry at the expense of all others. You can learn more about the impact of lumber tariffs at nahb.org/lumber.
The North Coast Building Industry Association is your local not-for-profit trade association representing member companies involved in all aspects of home building, remodeling, and other aspects of services available to help you in the future. So, you can see it is for your protection that you use a NCBIA member. If you are unsure that your contractor is a member of the NCBIA or you are looking for a list of NCBIA members, you can visit our website at www.ncbia.com or call 440-934-1090. We also have a job posting board (under the About Us tab). Like us or better yet share us on Facebook!
Homeownership is truly a cornerstone of the American way of life. North Coast Building Industry – Come Build with Us!