Texas Builder Says Tax on Canadian Wood Will Block Wood Species Preferred for U.S. Homes

- 'Stick Is Not a Stick' ITC Told; Substitution of Southern Yellow Pine

For Canadian Spruce-Pine-Fir Won't Work

- Duty That U.S. Producers Seek Would Hit U.S. Consumers With up To

78 Percent 'Hidden Tax'



Apr 23, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Consumers for Affordable Homes

    WASHINGTON, April 23 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- John
 Mikkelson, president, CTX Builders Supply, a division of Centex Homes, based
 in Texas, today joined more than 20 home builders and lumber dealers from
 throughout the United States who told the U.S. International Trade Commission
 (ITC) that lumber for house framing is not interchangeable and one product
 cannot be substituted for another if quality and affordability are to be
 protected for U.S. consumers.
     Comments were made in testimony against two petitions submitted by the
 Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group,
 that, if implemented, would result in a hidden tax on consumers of up to
 78 percent.
     "My remarks today are based on my 20 years in the builder supply
 industry," Mikkelson told the ITC.  "It has been my experience that regardless
 of whether there has been a duty or a quota on lumber imports, or any other
 market disruption, this has not changed the fact that we purchase 2X4
 spruce-pine-fir (from Canada) for certain applications and wide dimension
 yellow pine (produced in the U.S.) for other uses."
     Headquartered in Texas, Centex also has operations in the District of
 Columbia and 20 other states:  Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, California,
 Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia,
 South Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and
 Tennessee.
     "It's not realistic to suggest that southern yellow pine, produced in the
 United States, can substitute for Canadian spruce-pine-fir for house-framing,"
 said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 14 groups representing consumers, home builders
 and lumber dealers prior to the hearing.  "It's like comparing apples to
 oranges.
     "The two species of wood have very different properties," Petniunas
 continued, "including strength, resistance to rotting, and warping."
     The proposed duty is likely to encourage lumber users to seek supplies
 from other nations, rather than use lumber produced in the United States,
 according to those testifying.
     "If Canadian lumber becomes very much more expensive for our customers, we
 will have no choice but to turn to European producers for the quality of
 supply to satisfy the demand for whitewoods in framing applications," said
 Stephen P. Conwell, global product merchant, lumber, The Home Depot.
     "Such a price change would not cause our customers to switch to southern
 yellow pine for framing," Conwell continued.  "These two species are simply
 too different to be interchangeable."
     Lumber dealers also must respond to the demands of their customers,
 according to testimony and statements presented today by nine lumber dealers
 from across the country.
     "If softwood lumber were a commodity product, then we could ignore the
 demands of our customers because they would use what we have in stock," said
 Mike Fritz, president, Rugg Lumber Co., Greenfield, Mass.  "In other words, if
 softwood lumber were a commodity, the species of softwood lumber would be
 interchangeable for use with other species.  If we didn't carry the species of
 lumber that builders in our area prefer to use, we would lose their business."
 Fritz is also chair-elect, National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers
 Association.
     Tom Ross, vice president, Gilcrest Jewett Lumber Company (Iowa),
 emphasized that he must supply what his customers demand, and their demands
 can differ even in various parts of a single state.  He indicated most of his
 customers would not use southern yellow pine.
     "Nowhere in Iowa is there much of a preference for southern yellow pine in
 dimension lumber," Ross, a past chair of the National Lumber and Building
 Materials Dealers Association, told the ITC.  "This is due to the
 characteristics of southern yellow pine, which most carpenters do not like
 using."
     Barry B. Rutenberg, president of Barry Rutenberg Homes in Gainesville,
 Fla., and Area 5 national vice president of the National Association of Home
 Builders, echoed the "non-substitutability" argument from the builders'
 standpoint.
     "I select lumber for use in the homes I build based on a performance
 preference," Rutenberg told the ITC.  "When I place an order for the lumber I
 need to build a home, I do not ask my lumber dealer for whatever species he
 happens to have at the best price at the time.  I ask specifically -- by
 species -- for the needed quantity in each dimension.
     "I would not use southern yellow pine fir for framing walls in the houses
 I build, even if it cost half as much as spruce-pine-fir," Rutenberg
 continued.  "My preference for framing is based on the better performance I
 know I will get from spruce-pine-fir."
     Five home builders with businesses in nearly all states in the U.S.
 submitted statements to the ITC, each emphasizing that southern yellow pine is
 not substitutable for spruce-pine-fir in their regions of the country.
     The petitions would also have a negative impact on other industries such
 as sleep products.
     "We have very specific requirements for the wood products used in
 manufacturing bedframes," said Carlene Evenson, vice president of operations
 for Restonic Mattress Corporation.  "A box spring in a frame on a bed must fit
 within very tight tolerances.  During my 11 years in the industry, the
 standard for bedframe lumber has always been to require Canadian
 spruce-pine-fir.  The reason for this absolute requirement for spruce-pine-fir
 is that it meets the various tolerances we have in terms of exact size,
 moisture content, and, in particular, degree of warping and cupping."
     In addition to the fact that southern yellow pine cannot be substituted
 for Canadian lumber, the Coalition's petitions would have severe negative
 impacts on U.S. consumers, workers and the national economy, according to
 Petniunas.  She indicated that two days after the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber
 Agreement of 1996 (SLA) expired, the coalition of lumber producers submitted a
 countervailing duty petition for an approximate 40 percent duty and an
 anti-dumping duty between 28 and 38 percent, a duty she calls "ludicrous."
     She said that a 78 percent duty added to the price of softwood lumber from
 Canada could add approximately $2,000 to $4,000 to the price of a new home.
 As many as 1.2 million American families could be unable to purchase a new
 home, leading to a reduction in the number of housing starts in the U.S. and
 injury to the U.S. economy.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X67169944
 
 

SOURCE American Consumers for Affordable Homes
    WASHINGTON, April 23 /PRNewswire Interactive News Release/ -- John
 Mikkelson, president, CTX Builders Supply, a division of Centex Homes, based
 in Texas, today joined more than 20 home builders and lumber dealers from
 throughout the United States who told the U.S. International Trade Commission
 (ITC) that lumber for house framing is not interchangeable and one product
 cannot be substituted for another if quality and affordability are to be
 protected for U.S. consumers.
     Comments were made in testimony against two petitions submitted by the
 Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group,
 that, if implemented, would result in a hidden tax on consumers of up to
 78 percent.
     "My remarks today are based on my 20 years in the builder supply
 industry," Mikkelson told the ITC.  "It has been my experience that regardless
 of whether there has been a duty or a quota on lumber imports, or any other
 market disruption, this has not changed the fact that we purchase 2X4
 spruce-pine-fir (from Canada) for certain applications and wide dimension
 yellow pine (produced in the U.S.) for other uses."
     Headquartered in Texas, Centex also has operations in the District of
 Columbia and 20 other states:  Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, California,
 Arizona, New Mexico, Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia,
 South Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and
 Tennessee.
     "It's not realistic to suggest that southern yellow pine, produced in the
 United States, can substitute for Canadian spruce-pine-fir for house-framing,"
 said Susan Petniunas, spokesperson for the American Consumers for Affordable
 Homes (ACAH), an alliance of 14 groups representing consumers, home builders
 and lumber dealers prior to the hearing.  "It's like comparing apples to
 oranges.
     "The two species of wood have very different properties," Petniunas
 continued, "including strength, resistance to rotting, and warping."
     The proposed duty is likely to encourage lumber users to seek supplies
 from other nations, rather than use lumber produced in the United States,
 according to those testifying.
     "If Canadian lumber becomes very much more expensive for our customers, we
 will have no choice but to turn to European producers for the quality of
 supply to satisfy the demand for whitewoods in framing applications," said
 Stephen P. Conwell, global product merchant, lumber, The Home Depot.
     "Such a price change would not cause our customers to switch to southern
 yellow pine for framing," Conwell continued.  "These two species are simply
 too different to be interchangeable."
     Lumber dealers also must respond to the demands of their customers,
 according to testimony and statements presented today by nine lumber dealers
 from across the country.
     "If softwood lumber were a commodity product, then we could ignore the
 demands of our customers because they would use what we have in stock," said
 Mike Fritz, president, Rugg Lumber Co., Greenfield, Mass.  "In other words, if
 softwood lumber were a commodity, the species of softwood lumber would be
 interchangeable for use with other species.  If we didn't carry the species of
 lumber that builders in our area prefer to use, we would lose their business."
 Fritz is also chair-elect, National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers
 Association.
     Tom Ross, vice president, Gilcrest Jewett Lumber Company (Iowa),
 emphasized that he must supply what his customers demand, and their demands
 can differ even in various parts of a single state.  He indicated most of his
 customers would not use southern yellow pine.
     "Nowhere in Iowa is there much of a preference for southern yellow pine in
 dimension lumber," Ross, a past chair of the National Lumber and Building
 Materials Dealers Association, told the ITC.  "This is due to the
 characteristics of southern yellow pine, which most carpenters do not like
 using."
     Barry B. Rutenberg, president of Barry Rutenberg Homes in Gainesville,
 Fla., and Area 5 national vice president of the National Association of Home
 Builders, echoed the "non-substitutability" argument from the builders'
 standpoint.
     "I select lumber for use in the homes I build based on a performance
 preference," Rutenberg told the ITC.  "When I place an order for the lumber I
 need to build a home, I do not ask my lumber dealer for whatever species he
 happens to have at the best price at the time.  I ask specifically -- by
 species -- for the needed quantity in each dimension.
     "I would not use southern yellow pine fir for framing walls in the houses
 I build, even if it cost half as much as spruce-pine-fir," Rutenberg
 continued.  "My preference for framing is based on the better performance I
 know I will get from spruce-pine-fir."
     Five home builders with businesses in nearly all states in the U.S.
 submitted statements to the ITC, each emphasizing that southern yellow pine is
 not substitutable for spruce-pine-fir in their regions of the country.
     The petitions would also have a negative impact on other industries such
 as sleep products.
     "We have very specific requirements for the wood products used in
 manufacturing bedframes," said Carlene Evenson, vice president of operations
 for Restonic Mattress Corporation.  "A box spring in a frame on a bed must fit
 within very tight tolerances.  During my 11 years in the industry, the
 standard for bedframe lumber has always been to require Canadian
 spruce-pine-fir.  The reason for this absolute requirement for spruce-pine-fir
 is that it meets the various tolerances we have in terms of exact size,
 moisture content, and, in particular, degree of warping and cupping."
     In addition to the fact that southern yellow pine cannot be substituted
 for Canadian lumber, the Coalition's petitions would have severe negative
 impacts on U.S. consumers, workers and the national economy, according to
 Petniunas.  She indicated that two days after the U.S./Canada Softwood Lumber
 Agreement of 1996 (SLA) expired, the coalition of lumber producers submitted a
 countervailing duty petition for an approximate 40 percent duty and an
 anti-dumping duty between 28 and 38 percent, a duty she calls "ludicrous."
     She said that a 78 percent duty added to the price of softwood lumber from
 Canada could add approximately $2,000 to $4,000 to the price of a new home.
 As many as 1.2 million American families could be unable to purchase a new
 home, leading to a reduction in the number of housing starts in the U.S. and
 injury to the U.S. economy.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X67169944
 
 SOURCE  American Consumers for Affordable Homes