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Montana Timber Workers Respond To Trade Dispute With Canada

A stack of logs.
An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.

Lumber industry workers in Montana gathered in the capitol this afternoon to update the governor on the health of their businesses amidst a trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. Montana lumber workers received a positive jolt last month when the Trump administration placed a first round of tariffs on softwood lumber coming across the border.

“It’ll help our market on the U.S. side of things," says Chuck Roady, Vice President of F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber in Columbia Falls.

He says the tariffs on Canadian wood products will increase pressure to renegotiate a trade deal between the countries that expired in 2015. Roady says a new trade deal is preferable than “living with the animosity of a tariff.” He says U.S. lumber manufactures would like a new deal establishing a quota limiting  how much Canadian softwood products could come into U.S. markets.

The Trump administration is expected to announce another tariff late in June. The United States International Trade Commission released a report earlier this year saying imports of softwood lumber products from Canada were injuring U.S. industries.

The Canadian government has called the duty unfair, and officials have threatened to ban U.S., including Montana industry, coal shipments from a Canadian port. 

Governor Steve Bullock was not available for an interview after his meeting with lumber industry representatives this afternoon. His office issued a statement saying the governor believes “a fair softwood lumber agreement is the best way to grow economic opportunity on both sides of the border while safeguarding Montana’s forest products industry.”

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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