Wisconsin loggers welcome President Trump's tariff on Canadian lumber

Wisconsin loggers welcome President Trump's tariff on Canadian lumber (WLUK/Dave Duchan)

SEYMOUR, Wis. (WLUK) -- Another roadblock in U.S. relations with Canada could affect some in Wisconsin.

First, there was the ongoing dairy dispute, now, a 20 percent import tax on some Canadian lumber.

Aaron Burmeister owns Burmeister Logging in Seymour.

"We're a local logging company producing 11,000 cords a year we cut in the state of Wisconsin,” said Burmeister.

Burmeister explained that President Donald Trump's 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber from Canada is good news for loggers like him.

"We'll be able to compete better, the big thing is going to be market share,” said Burmeister.

Softwood lumber comes from trees like cedar, pine, redwood and spruce.

"If you allow too many trees to grow in an area, the lower portion of the forest doesn't get a lot of sunlight, and then that doesn't allow your next generation of trees to start,” said Steven Ring, the President of the Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association.

The Wisconsin Woodland Owners Association helps woodland owners sell their trees to loggers.

"So it's very important that we have markets and good professional loggers, and foresters, and industries for us to sell our product,” added Ring.

The Trump administration said the tariff was created because Canadian loggers have been provided with unfair subsidies by the Canadian government.

"The provinces subsidized the cutting down of lumber -- this technical term being 'stumpage' -- and that lets them charge a subsidized low price when the product hits the boarder,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross at a White House briefing Tuesday.

Ross explained about 31.5 percent of softwood lumber comes from Canada.

"Adding this 20 percent tariff will essentially bring in $1 billion a year," said Ross.

However, in a statement, the Wisconsin Builders Association says the cost of lumber could increase, the association says:

Along with the NAHB, the Wisconsin Builders Association is similarly disheartened by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to levy tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber. The continued uncertainty surrounding a new trade pact between the U.S. and Canada has already caused lumber prices to spike 22% this year (adding almost $3,600 to the price of a new home). Adding tariffs on top of this will only escalate an already difficult situation, driving up costs further and keeping new homes out of reach for countless Wisconsin families. We urge the U.S. and Canada to work cooperatively to achieve a long-term, stable solution in lumber trade that provides for a consistent and fairly priced supply of lumber.

As for the on-going dairy dispute between the U.S. and Canada; Governor Scott Walker announced new loan guarantees for Wisconsin dairy farmers and processors who are affected by the conflict.

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