Hardwood Check-off: Why no specifics on how the funds will be used?

“Why won’t the folks proposing the Hardwood Lumber & Hardwood Plywood Check-off tell us exactly how the funds will be used?”

Simple question; not so simple answer. When the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities began researching the potential of USDA Research & Promotion Programs (a.k.a. “check-offs”) to help grow the market pie for a range of forest products, given the long lead-time to develop such programs we developed what we believe is an apt analogy. Crafting a check-off is like buying a new vehicle complete with the first tank of gas. You are ready to hit the road but you don’t set the GPS until you know “exactly” where you want to go. Assuming that a hardwood check-off is adopted in 2015, a Board won’t be fully in place and the first year’s assessments in hand until late 2016. Thus, a program wouldn’t likely be launched until late 2016 or more likely 2017.

As difficult as it is to predict the weather tomorrow or the stock market mid-day, how likely is it that those proposing a check-off can predict with accuracy the specific actions needed to help promote the industry 18–24 months from now? That’s why we urge every segment of the industry considering a check-off to include the full range of tools potentially available. Then, as the Board reviews needs with the industry, they can set the specific destination that will afford the greatest opportunity for growth and success for all industry stakeholders.

It would be foolhardy or false bravado at the concept stage to do anything more than outline the “types” of things that a check-off can do, and let the Board – using real-time information – set the GPS.

Get it to a vote

The Hardwood Check-off comment period closes September 7. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the program, I encourage you to click on this link soon and post the following message (just copy and paste):

Get the proposed Hardwood Check-off to a vote.

The industry can decide with one company, one vote. If you’d like additional information, be sure to visit the Hardwood Check-off’s new website at hardwoodcheckoff.com.