Timber and Lumber Exports
Exporting timber and lumber to other
countries is an important, and controversial, part of Oregon's
forest products industries. Controversy over wood exports
is nothing new dissatisfaction in the colonies over
the British export of choice white pines from the eastern
seaboard contributed to the American Revolution in 1776.
And our changing laws and regulations demonstrates mixed
Between 1970 and 1990, several western
states, including Oregon, enacted statutes to prevent the
export of unprocessed timber outside of the originating
state or outside of the United States. In addition to banning
log exports from Federal lands, the 1990 act banned the
export of logs from most state and local government lands.
What does this mean? Wood exported from Oregon originates
exclusively from non-public lands.
Wood products industries in Oregon produce
for markets in other countries where local wood resources
are scarce. In addition, money talks. Export markets often
are high-end markets, where high quality wood from Oregon
gets a premium price. Ultimately, the increased demand (more
people wanting the same product) combined with premium wood
prices means higher values for exported wood products.
The chart below shows that the weighted
average of export log prices can continue an upward trend
in spite of the drop in price for domestic log grades (e.g.
July 2000, marked by the red arrows).
"$MBF" stands for dollars
per thousand board feet. A log that is 12 inches in diameter
and 10 feet long is about 50 board feet.
The average price for the same quality
of wood, exported from major ports in Oregon and Washington,
commands a price that is about 25% more valuable.
Chart adapted from the Timberland Report VOL. 2, NO. 3 ,
James W. Sewall Company.