U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will allow timber operators to request up to two years’ extension on certain timber harvest contracts with the Forest Service. In Alaska, the USDA will allow contractors to request up to three years’ extension in light of the impacts of China’s retaliatory tariffs on Alaska spruce exports.
“The coronavirus pandemic threatens timber jobs and could potentially bankrupt mills that operate in rural communities near our national forests,” Murkowski said. “Today’s announcement by USDA will give these essential businesses some needed relief. I appreciate that the administration took into account that Alaska timber operators have suffered immensely under the draconian 20-percent Chinese timber tariff rates.”
USDA’s decision was approved by Under Secretary Jim Hubbard, who invoked the “substantial overriding public interest” (SOPI) authority under the National Forest Management Act. The SOPI will not alter the value of timber harvested from National Forest System lands, but will give the timber industry time to adjust to changing market conditions.
The USDA decision is posted here in the Federal Register.
Murkowski is Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.