Effective July 1, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin automatically collecting assessments on imported lumber shipments covered by the so-called “Softwood Lumber Check-off” on behalf of the Softwood Lumber Board, an industry-funded marketing body first legislated by the 1996 Farm Bill. The reporting and payment of these mandatory assessments are currently being made directly to the SLB.
What is the Softwood Lumber Check-off?
The Check-off* is a federally-authorized commodity research and promotion program financed by U.S. importers, manufacturers, and other “first handlers” of specified softwood lumber products. A subset of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the program is intended to strengthen and expand the position of softwood lumber in the marketplace, while also striving to develop new uses for the product within the United States.
*Softwood Lumber Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Industry Information Order (7 CFR Part 1217).
Assessments, Exemptions & Refunds
- Following a $0.06/thousand board feet increase approved by the SLB last year, the current assessment rate is $0.35/mbf. The assessment is collected at U.S. ports of entry.
- Companies are exempt from paying assessments on their first 15 million board feet (mmbf) shipped to, or within, the United States.
- Larger importers (shipping 15 mmbf or more annually to the U.S.) will receive a refund from the SLB on assessments paid on their first 15 mmbf shipped.
- Small importers (shipping less than 15 mmbf annually to the U.S.) will receive a refund from the SLB on all assessments collected by CBP. Small importers of record may also apply to the SLB for a Certificate of Exemption.
- Refunds will be issued to importers of record based on company names and addresses in CBP’s database. Accordingly, companies should ensure their information with the agency is up to date or contact the SLB at email@example.com to verify your company information.
Need More Information?
The following publications will provide importers and others with a better understanding of the rationale for and purposes served by generic commodity promotion and research programs such as the softwood lumber check-off:
- Title V: Agricultural Promotion — USDA Economic Research Service
- Commodity Check-off; The Potential for North American Softwood Lumber — U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities