Wicker, Cochran Pressure Obama on Canadian Softwood Lumber Exports

Canadian Foot-Dragging on Lumber Agreement Affects Industry in U.S. & Mississippi

October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., are among a bipartisan group of Senators pressuring the Obama administration to make progress with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement to protect U.S. timber jobs and communities.

Wicker and Cochran signed a letter to President Obama that encourages the administration to remain firm in negotiations to reach an agreement that addresses the effects of subsidized Canadian lumber exports to the United States. The Magnolia State lawmakers signed the letter to signal the importance of not allowing subsidized exports to diminish the $1.1 billion forestry industry in Mississippi.

“A fair trade agreement between Canada and the United States is critical to the lumber industry in Mississippi,” Wicker said. “The Administration needs to negotiate a deal that protects American jobs from being undercut by subsidies that help prop up their Canadian competition.”

"The overall health of the American timber industry has direct effect on mills and forestry jobs in Mississippi. Any agreement that does not adequately address the government subsidies granted by Canada would be unfair to our workers and rural communities,” Cochran said.

Forest products produced on Mississippi’s 19.7 million acres of forestland generated $1.16 billion in 2015, an increase of $138 million over the preceding year, according to the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.

The letter, led by Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, stresses that a new agreement should be consistent with a joint statement signed by the President and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau in June. The Senators’ letter is critical of reluctance by Canadian negotiators to adhere to the goals of the joint statement.

“Hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs and thousands of U.S. rural communities depend on fairness in trade in softwood lumber. That is why we will continue to urge you, and any future Administration, to seek a fair, effective, and sustainable agreement with Canada on softwood lumber trade, and in the absence of such an agreement, to fully enforce U.S. trade laws,” the Senators wrote.

The letter signed by 25 Senators is available here: http://bit.ly/2er54Pp