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Lacey and Marketing U.S. Woods

Many people don't realize that the trade in U.S. woods is also covered by the Lacey Act. For example, if the government can prove that a tree was taken from the wrong side of a property line, that would be a Lacey violation, and the U.S. company would be liable for any applicable penalties. Furthermore, all American domestic woods need to be declared upon their re-entry into the U.S. If a foreign company utilizes American red oak or walnut for a floor, pecan for a kitchen cabinet or SPF for plywood production, etc., those species will be subject to Lacey declaration requirements when the final product is imported into the U.S. So while much less likely to be targeted for investigation, a certain level of due diligence should be done regarding the American supply chain, as well.

Many American manufacturers anticipated an increase in their domestic market share as both downstream producers and retail customers shifted from imported species to the "safer" domestic hardwoods. Certainly there was some change in that part of the market, but U.S. companies should not neglect their opportunity to utilize the Lacey Act to increase their export opportunities as well.

U.S. companies should be offering their overseas customers who intend to export a finished product back to the U.S. documentation to show that their production has an extremely low risk of being considered "tainted." Such documentation can include the FSC's own assessment of American hardwoods as "low risk," or copies of reports by the American Hardwood Export Council or the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc. and local industry organizations. Local universities often have studies (Purdue has an excellent one on Indiana timber) that can be quoted. Companies with good documentation packages should become preferred suppliers to nervous overseas buyers.

And since Lacey-like legislation is being developed in so many other countries, U.S. hardwoods should see increased international demand.

Of course, with the ITC case on engineered flooring still pending, one of, if not the strongest export market for U.S. hardwood-China-has certainly taken a hit.

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