Reactions to Trump Administration’s Canadian Lumber Tax

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LACKAWANNA COUNTY -- At a news conference Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced its plan to raise the taxes on lumber coming into the United States from Canada. It's something the U.S. lumber industry wanted to help level the playing field, but some fear it could mean higher lumber costs here.

The Commerce Department says Canada has been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber products. In retaliation, President Trump says he wants a 20% tax on Canadian lumber entering the United States.

"A lot of lumber comes from up there. There's a lot of trees in Canada," said Mike Cordaro, the vice president at Dunmore Lumber Co.

He says he has already been hit with price increases because suppliers know what has been going on.

"It's not like a natural disaster where it's all of the sudden. It's kind of like the stock market, anticipating news. Lumber is a commodity," Cordaro said.

The U.S. and Canada have been disputing over softwood lumber for decades, so President Trump's announcement about the tariff didn't come as much of a surprise.

"Rather than hit the price increase all at one, they wanted to gradually step up the price. So we've been getting hit with increases basically for the last month or two," Cordaro explained.

The U.S. imported more than $5 billion in softwood lumber last year, mainly for residential home building. If someone comes in today to purchase a home, they'll get a contract with prices. Employees at Heritage Homes in Blakely say that contract will not factor in the price increase for lumber three to four months from now when workers start actually building the house.

"We have to pay that extra price for lumber. We can't charge them because lumber went up," said Ron Morgan, a salesman with Heritage Homes.

They estimate that would put them about $1,500 out, but eventually, it would mean the cost to buy would increase by that much.

"It trickles down to us, and then from us, eventually to the homeowner, because we're not going to hold that price forever," Morgan explained.

President Trump says this will level the playing field for American lumber companies. If it costs less for buyers to use American-made lumber, they will.

At Dunmore Lumber Co., they say they already emphasize the use of American products.

"We do the best we can to keep the price down for people. And we will," Cordaro said.

President Trump will send an official request to Congress in the coming weeks. The tariff could be anywhere from 6%-24%. The U.S. lumber industry is applauding this moving, saying Canada's lumber subsidies have hurt American lumbering for decades.

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