As we worked to put the final touches on the agenda for the 60th World of Wood Annual Convention in beautiful Austin, Texas, I was struck by how many issues IWPA is engaged in will have lasting impacts on the future of our industry. The relative health of the U.S. economy, the strong dollar, and new sourcing opportunities have led to strong growth of U.S. wood products imports, but legal and regulatory issues are percolating that require immediate and constant attention and IWPA is working every day to make sure our members have the information they need to find opportunity where others find only frustration.
Recent developments continue to show that wood products importers and the businesses that utilize their products must have the latest information about the requirements of the Lacey Act and how it is being enforced. In the last year we have seen the prosecution of three tree cutters and a mill owner in Washington State for allegedly illegally harvesting Big Leaf Maple in the a national forest, the settlement between Lumber Liquidators and the Department of Justice for violations of the Lacey Act and customs laws, and most recently the exclusion of several shipments of wood products from Peru due to U.S. Customs and Border Protections inability to determine admissibility under the Lacey Act. These events have led to considerable uncertainty about the steps wood products importers must take to meet their obligations under the Lacey Act. In addition to blog posts and webinars on these critical issues, IWPA will be announcing a full schedule of courses in the coming weeks for its Wood Trade Compliance Training and Due Diligence Tools course.
In the legal realm, plaintiffs’ attorneys continue to file lawsuits alleging that flooring retailers have sold product that emits excessive levels of formaldehyde. Late last year it became clear that the investor who recently rescinded his claim that Lumber Liquidators knowingly sold non-compliant flooring, was betting that the stock of online furniture retailer Wayfair would fall because the company was selling furniture products he claimed emitted excessive formaldehyde. IWPA uses our weekly E-News newsletter to keep members informed about these developments. IWPA proactively worked with the California Air Resources Board to prepare a Factsheet about the CARB regulation for wood products importers.
IWPA is always looking for new ways to get the critical information our members rely upon into their hands in a way that they can easily apply it to their own business model. It is no surprise that the most intensive exchange of the latest critical intelligence takes place at our World of Wood Annual Convention, which will take place in just a few weeks from April 6-8 at the JW Marriott in beautiful Austin, Texas. Attendees - member and non-member alike - will be hearing from leading voices from the industry, government, the financial sector, and NGOs about these topics and many others. If you haven’t registered yet, please be sure to visit the convention registration page on our website at www.IWPAwood.org
. We can’t wait to see you in Austin!