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'In it for the long haul': TLA convention kicks off amid ongoing lumber dispute with US

(iStock, Photo)

The Truck Loggers Association is kicking off its 75th annual convention in Victoria

The ongoing lumber dispute with the US is expected to be top of mind as hundreds of TLA members gather in Victoria

According to TLA's executive diretor, members are responsible for close to 90 per cent of all trees harvested in BC

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The head of a group representing nearly 500 independent forest contractors is expecting Canada’s softwood lumber dispute with the United States to be top of mind at this week’s 75th annual Truck Loggers Association convention in Victoria.

“The US market is our, a natural market for BC forest product, and is our largest market for of course our lumber,” says TLA Executive Director David Elstone. “And so it’s a very important market, but no doubt the BC government has done an excellent job selling our forest products across the globe.”

He says TLA members are responsible for close to 90 per cent of all trees harvested in BC.

“We’re in it for the long haul. We’re not really feeling the full impacts that we are being hit with these duties. I mean lumber prices are at pretty darn high levels. Right now we’re able to pass on the cost of those duties to US customers, the home billers in the United States.”

Elstone admits he is worried about what happens when the markets do change and prices are no longer so high.

“I don’t see that happening for the short-term, but you know we do live operating in a cyclical industry and at some point markets will soften,” he explains. “And at that point, that’s when these duties that if we don’t have some sort of resolution these duties will be passed back down the supply chain and my membership … will not be able to withstand any sort of downloading as they already are operating on bare minimum or negative margins.”

Other topics on the agenda include wildfire management, First Nations interests and how contracts are awarded across the forest industry.