Tester, Daines push for timber production

By Martin Kidston

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines said Tuesday they’ll continue their efforts to increase timber production in Montana and ensure local lumber mills are being treated fairly.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman, the state’s two senators asked for a new Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada. The agreement is needed to keep Canadian lumber exports at or below an agreed upon U.S. market share.

Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines

Tester, a Democrat, and Daines, a Republican, are pushing for a deal that includes volume restrictions, which will provide a competitive market for American lumber.

“A strong lumber industry is essential to the U.S. economy, and securing fair trade in lumber is of critical importance to domestic lumber manufacturers and their workers,” Tester and Daines said in a joint statement released Tuesday. “Subsidized and unfairly traded lumber imports continue to severely harm United States mills, workers and communities.”

Tester and Daines also called on Froman to take current market conditions into account when negotiating the new Softwood Lumber Agreement.

The previous Softwood Lumber Agreement expired last October, they said.

Also last year, the Montana Congressional delegation met with Canadian trade officials and encouraged them to agree to a new deal to promote a fair marketplace and avoid future litigation.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com