Wood Competition

The softwood lumber industry has a check-off program that was initiated to rebuild lost markets in the U.S. A “check off” is an industry-funded, generic marketing and research program designed to increase domestic and/or international demand for softwood lumber. Check off programs are directed by industry-governed boards. This unified promotion program was created to counter competitive forces and downturn in the housing market.

The U.S. Congress first allowed for the generic promotion of farm products in the 1930s. Today’s programs require no special congressional authorization and are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA has spent federal funds to promote wood construction.

Working in a collective effort to counter this competitive advantage, CRSI and other associations are assessing various ways to be responsive including a possible check off that CRSI members would need to agree to support. This program would likely have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

A coalition would be needed to fight this threat to rebar construction markets.

Significance

Presents a direct threat to reinforced steel built structures – homes/apartment building and mid-size commercial buildings.

Areas for GAC attention

  • Work w/ CRSI executive leadership and Marketing Committee
  • Coalition Development – steel/concrete.
  • Legislation for Reinforcing Steel check-off.
  • Education of Members of Congress.
  • Maintain/build working relationships with AISI, SMA, PCA, NSSGA, NRMCA, (CAMRA associations).

The Timber Innovation Act (TIA)S. 2892, authorizes the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to place mass timber, otherwise known as engineered, cross-laminated wood, as the material of choice for tall wood building structures exceeding 85 ft. or above. 

Attached is a letter from a diverse group of 167 stakeholders from the construction, labor and building materials sectors who oppose this legislation because it:

  • Picks winners and losers at taxpayer’s expense;
  • Interferes with fair market competition;
  • Duplicates existing authority at USDA which oversees the Softwood Lumber Check Off.

This is more than just an R&D bill.  It also authorizes the USDA to promote, market, educate and train local and state officials along with engineers, architects and building designers to construct buildings 85 ft. and above with engineered wood at the taxpayer’s expense.

The International Building Code (IBC) does not provide the building code for wood structures to be built above 85 ft. (or five to six stories depending on occupancy) due to the combustible nature of the material.  The IBC, and the membership of the International Code Council, should be permitted to continue their critical testing work to determine and provide the building code associated with tall wood building structures before Congress advances the TIA.