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Individual Highlight

Are There Regional Barriers to Exporting U.S. Hardwood Products?

Photo of Hardwood lumber on a sawmill grading deck. Exports are a major market for U.S. hardwood lumber graded for appearance-based uses. Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Institute of Technology.Hardwood lumber on a sawmill grading deck. Exports are a major market for U.S. hardwood lumber graded for appearance-based uses. Urs Buehlmann, Virginia Institute of Technology.Snapshot : Exports have become a critical market for higher-value hardwood lumber given the steep decline in domestic furniture manufacturing and the recent housing downturn; however, some hardwood-producing regions of the United States seemingly face greater barriers than others to participating in export markets.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bumgardner, Matt 
Research Location : Eastern United States
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1160

Summary

Forest Service and university researchers collaborated to compare a measure of production (employment-based) to the value of exports in three U.S. hardwood regions for two product types: lumber and secondary (cabinets and furniture) products. Proximity to seaports (i.e., the East Coast) benefited exporting of both hardwood lumber and secondary products, but the impact was greater for lumber. More inland regions of the United States faced greater disadvantages to exporting lumber, likely due to longer haul distances to ocean ports and higher transportation costs relative to product value. This circumstance is especially important given that Asian markets have replaced Canada as the most important U.S. export destination. Average sawmill size and sawtimber quality also impacted regional hardwood lumber exporting performance. The results of this research highlight the need for efficient transportation infrastructure from interior regions of the United States and show the importance of developing export markets for value-added products, for which regional transportation barriers are lower.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • University of Wisconsin Madison