During a virtual White House “listening session” Monday, builders said Canadian lumber tariffs dramatically affect new-home prices and economic stability.
WASHINGTON – During a virtual White House listening session Monday, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) urged the Biden administration to increase domestic production of timber from federal lands and work with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement that will eliminate tariffs.
“Historically high price levels for lumber and other building materials are dramatically affecting home prices and rental costs and threaten the nation’s economic stability,” says NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter.
Konter told administration officials that material costs are up 20% year-over-year. And since last August, the price of framing lumber has more than tripled as oriented strand board prices doubled.
“These supply chain price increases have only added to the ongoing housing affordability crisis,” Konter says.
Lumber production has not kept pace with demand, despite record-high lumber prices and tariffs that protect domestic producers as they raise costs for builders and homebuyers. In October 2021, domestic lumber production was only 0.4% higher than the previous year, and today it’s lower than it was in 2018. And domestic sawmill production increased by just 500 jobs last year despite historically high lumber prices.
“If our trade protectionist policies are not creating domestic jobs or increasing domestic production, then it’s time to revisit our trade positions,” says Konter. “Few things would have a more immediate impact on lumber markets than a swift resolution to our ongoing trade dispute with Canada over softwood lumber.”
Konter also told officials that since the 1990s, significant timber reductions from federally owned lands has also severely constricted domestic supply.
He called on policymakers to help boost domestic production by seeking higher targets for timber sales from publicly-owned lands and opening up additional federal forest lands for logging in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“Housing can do its part to create jobs and lead the economy forward, but in order to do so, we need to address skyrocketing lumber and building material prices, and chronic production bottlenecks,” says Konter.
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