A Full-Court Press on Lumber

Filed in Advocacy, Material Costs by on March 19, 2021

lumberNAHB continues to move rapidly and aggressively to engage the Biden administration on lumber and to urge policymakers to take immediate action to address skyrocketing lumber prices and supply shortages that are harming home builders, home buyers, remodelers and the economy.

This week, letters were sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. Forest Service Chief Victoria Christiansen that addressed NAHB’s urgent concerns on this issue and recommended key strategies to ease lumber price volatility and boost supply.

Last week, NAHB spearheaded an effort that led to 35 organizations signing onto a joint letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging the secretary to “examine the lumber supply chain, identify the causes for high prices and supply constraints, and seek immediate remedies that will increase production.”

The letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack urged him to include the lumber supply chain in a report to the White House regarding President Biden’s executive order to secure supply chains for critical and essential goods.

“Thank you for your efforts to examine America’s agricultural supply chains,” the letter stated. “We respectfully encourage you to include the lumber supply chain in your review and report to President Biden. We stand ready to work with you to ensure American consumers and home builders have a reliable, affordable supply of lumber to meet housing demand.”

The message to U.S. Forest Chief Christiansen noted that “improving the health of our nation’s forests and increasing the supply of domestic timber are not mutually exclusive goals, and we strongly urge you to maintain current harvesting plans for the National Forest system.”

“Better forest management practices will not only promote the health of our nation’s forest system but also improve housing affordability,” the letter stated. “As additional supply of domestically produced timber is brought into the market, upward pressure on lumber prices will soften.”

View the full text of all the lumber letters, including one sent to President Biden in January, here.

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Comments (26)

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  1. John Moulton says:

    The Current Retail situation is out of control – We are a small residential builder in Central Massachusetts – Today I purchased several sheets of OSB 7/16″ – Todays Price was $39.00 – Totally unacceptable – appx 13 months ago we were paying $9.00 for the same product –
    This is just but one aspect of the product market – add to this, the framing lumber, Tongue and Groove, plywood, cdx, Drywall, shingles, siding, windows its all priced beyond reasonable –
    There is no reason why the USA can’t increase the supply chain – Needs to open up and needs to do so quickly.

  2. Rick Facemyer says:

    Why are lumber mills over flowing with lumber yet we are told that there is a lumber shortage? I have the pictures! The loggers are not making any more money the supply chains are not making more money! So where is all the money going?

  3. Peter A Menard says:

    My wife and I are at a complete stand still in building our home. We cleared our land ourselves to save money to be able to afford to build the house, now the lumber prices are so hi we can no longer build until the prices come down if they ever do!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sandra Jones says:

      My husband and I are in the very same boat not only with wood but also Windows we cant get them for like 6 months I don’t understand.

  4. Steve Young says:

    Even worse they are now paying loggers by the ton rather than board feet so they’re getting underpaid. How about looking at futures traders and big box lumber retailers? There’s definitely a stink to this whole mess and someone’s pockets are getting lined at the expense of loggers, home builders, remodelers, wood workers and home owners.

  5. Johnny Roller says:

    We are building a home. We unlike some are in a situation that we can slow our roll on the project. I will not continue to line the pockets of big business. They have decided to take advantage of folks during hard times. February we should have seen the prices fall back to normal this has always been the trend.

  6. Larry Ralphs says:

    Larry Ralphs
    Ralphs Construction Clifton Idaho
    The pandemic cannot be used for an excuse for the increase in material prices any longer. We are a year into it now. The demand for housing never dropped off. In fact it only increased. Why did suppliers not recognize that a few months into the situation & ramp up their production? They didn’t have to be brain scientists to figure it out. Now we have potential customers backing away from wanting to build. First time home buyers are being eliminated from the market. Power, greed, & money are the driving forces behind this mess.
    We are a small residential general contractor, builder in southern Idaho. We’ve been building since 1978 & have never seen anything so ridiculous.
    It would really be interesting to know the real reasons behind all this. If we did it would most likely bring about a real legitimate reason a nation wide protest.

    • Mark Edy says:

      Of course the pandemic did not have a great impact on American lumber production. There US has not been able to fulfill its own requirements of wood products since the 1970s. It has required Canadian lumber to fill the gap. Southern Yellow Pine producers initialy started to air their complaints about what they called the flood of Canadian lumber which they could not compete against. There haver been tariffs on Canadian lumber before, but in 2017 Trump imposed a 22% tariff on Canadian imports. The immediate effect was to have American lumber prices increase while Canadians manufacturers curtailed production and logging was also cut back. Tariffs never do anything other than raise prices to the consumer. You can thank Trump for this current situation.

    • Art says:

      Value of the dollar is being diluted by money printing to “pay” for wasteful spending and politicians’ pork,

      Making everything more expensive while wages remain depressed.

      At this rate we will be talking about $100 per hour minimum wage soon.

  7. Tarikdesign says:

    I am a small one man business man ,recently started to build tiny homes right after the pandemic and I am hit really hard with this prices every day a new rise.and I agree with the guy in Massachusetts
    the price of the osb we use the pay 8 to 9 Dallas a sheet .yesterday here in Las Vegas nv was about 39 Dallas.
    I don’t know what happening.???

  8. Karen Borst says:

    Please write you congress men and women

  9. Ed Fitch says:

    I’ve only been building for 17 years, been through at least two tough economic cycles, but I have never experienced anything as unique or challenging as this cycle. This cycle is beyond crazy and someone is over-profiting from it, perhaps the lumberyard as I have heard salesmen speak of ridiculous high commissions so they must be profiting?? It has to change as it is really hard to quote a custom or even take the risk to stick your neck out on specs. Labor is also raising prices thinking builders are cleaning up. And the government is going to tell us there is minimal inflation??

    • Scott R says:

      Unfortunately commission structures for building materials salesman has not increased. With the struggles of getting product from our vendors/suppliers the workload has increased exponentially. I do believe however that the companies that employ these salesman are making a killing.

  10. EILEEN M BAILEY says:

    We are a general contractor from Shelton, WA and we just got a lumber package delivered that normally would have cost us $10k and today it costs $25k+!! This is going to drive businesses that made it through COVID out of business because they won’t be able to afford this enormous increase in lumber prices!! Please get this figured out so we don’t lose more businesses!! Thank you.

  11. I’m puzzled. The purpose of tariffs is generally to protect domestic producers from uneconomic trade practices of other countries and to protect them from below market pricing. If I was a domestic producer, I wouldn’t be holding production back, I’d be expanding while the prices are high. No one producer is going to have enough impact to bring prices down, that will only happen when most of them do the same thing. So either demand is so outstripping production capacity that producers are running at 100% and making boatloads of money, or they’re colluding to hold production down.

    What we need is an answer, not conjecture, to whether demand is way up, supply way down, and production capacity and utilization. Only when we have statistics can we focus on a solution. Without knowledge, users blame the unknown and makes them the boogey man.

    • Mark Edy says:

      Billo,
      It wasn’t the American manufacturers that curtailed production when Trump placed the tariffs on Canadian imports, it was the Canadian m producers and their harvesting. Now as prices increase it is difficult for them to increase as their log supplies are low prior to the start of the logging season. Since Canadian lumber has represented nearly 30 per cent of US requirements, the Canadian reduction of production has a huge impact on the supply. Remember also that since the 1990s the reduction of harvest on USFS lands has been significant. American cannot support its own needs.

      • What you’re saying makes sense. The price spike is an ordinary supply-demand reaction. It may be excessive in an historical sense, but it’s caused more by a shortage than by fatcats taking advantage by holding back production and raking in excess profits. The solution is to increase supply, whether with pressure on the Biden administration to open up USFS land or producers to invest in increasing capacity. Tariffs are intended to protect domestic industries from unfair foreign competition. If US producers can’t keep up, then there’s no reason for the tariffs and they should be lifted, too.

        As a consequence, we shouldn’t be demanding the government jump into the free market and dictate the prices the products should be sold for. Open lands, lift tariffs, and let the market work.

        • Mark Edy says:

          Bill, I would b surprised if the Democrats open up more logging on USFS lands. The reduction of timber harvest over the past 30 years has ben popular with many Americans, not just environmentalists, although the intent of the Forest Service is to manage lands for environmental and industry needs. The Pendulum swung heavily in favor of industry initially and now it is not.
          Since we have become reliant upon Canadian imports, I see no reason why we shouldn’t either eliminate or significantly reduce the tariffs. Tariffs were pushed for by the SYP manufacturers who already have the lowest priced timber as well as labor costs. They have insisted that the Canadians subsidize the industry with minimal stumpage, but that is only part of the picture. The Canadians also have high labor costs and a long distance to transport their products to market. For years I have imported wood products from Canada that had no import tariff because they were products that cannot be replicated here. When Trump increase the tariffs, these products were no longer exempted. The wood products industry is different than wheat or other agricultural or dairy products that Trump put tariffs on. The wood products industry doesn’t get bailout from the federal government like they obtained.

        • Art says:

          The mills can’t expand capacity in the short term…
          it is also a bad long term investment because demand will drop eventually, plus tariff eliminaiton will dump more wood into the market

          Trucking/transportation bottlenecks are an additional constraint
          Try hiring a truck these days or ordering an ocean container move

          There is no miracle solution

    • Art says:

      So prices for lumber are not high in Canada?

      Demand is high there as well.

      How will eliminating tariffs fix the high prices?
      Some extra competition may reduce prices slightly but probably not significantly until demand tanks

  12. Chad says:

    It’s complete price gauging! Don’t believe anything you hear about shortages as that’s not the case. We will Probably never see $8 OSB again. My father is on the state forestry board and a local logger as well. In agreement with above statements, they are not getting a penny more for lumber. The lumber suppliers know they can get what they want for OSB and lumber because as homebuilders, we are still blowing and going so it’s a necessity. Either something must change or the building industry will come to a halt which will further impact our economy as a whole. What makes matters worse is that now all suppliers are following suit with increase in prices because they are the lumber suppliers getting more money so everyone wants a piece of the pie now.

    • Brad says:

      You do understand that the price increases are from the mills directly not local suppliers. We are paying 2.5 times more for lumber than last March

  13. Art says:

    Government disincentives people from working and producing goods/services.
    Extended unemployment, $600 extra weekly.

    Why go to work (saw mill, forest, shingle plant, trucking, etc)?

    You folks surprised there are shortages?

    Free printed money and no production does this…. just like in Venezuela.