WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)
has announced that the U.S. and Canada have agreed to extend the 2006
U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) for two years. Michaud,
Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, led a bipartisan letter
that was sent to USTR last October calling for strong, timely, and
effective enforcement mechanisms as a condition for supporting an
extension of the SLA.
"In rural areas of Maine, sawmills can be the primary economic
engines of towns. When they close down they can take entire communities
with them," said Michaud. "All our lumber industry wants is a level
playing field and an extension of the SLA can provide that. But it is
critical that we enforce this agreement. Canadian violations have hurt
domestic operations throughout our country. The U.S. must do a better
job of enforcement to make this extension a success."
From 2006 to 2008, Maine lost one sawmill factory each year. In 2010,
two additional mills closed, and at least one shut its doors in 2011.
This represents a 24% decline in Maine's sawmills in the last five years
alone. The Department of Commerce calculates that each job in the
lumber industry supports 4.5 more, which means nearly 130,000 jobs were
lost between 2006 and 2009 as a result of the decline in the sawmill