N.B. woodlot owners demand reformsThursday, June 24, 2010
For the first time in 50 years, Murray Munn is not cutting wood in private woodlots. The N.B. Federation of Woodlot Owners says revenues have dropped by about 70 per cent in the last five years.For the first time in 50 years, Murray Munn is not cutting wood in private woodlots. The N.B. Federation of Woodlot Owners says revenues have dropped by about 70 per cent in the last five years. (CBC)
The New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners is demanding the provincial government reverse a 1992 decision that hampered their ability to sell wood to forest companies.
Murray Munn has spent 50 years cutting timber from private woodlots but this is the first year that he and his crew have not been in the woods.
Markets for wood are so bad that he's converting one of his woodlots into a housing development.
Munn said his situation is being made more difficult because large forest companies can get cheaper wood from Crown land.
He said the problem goes back to 1992, when the former Frank McKenna government cancelled a policy that industry had to buy from woodlots before it could get access Crown land.
"They couldn't negotiate a price with the companies on Crown land until they negotiated a price with the marketing boards. And that gave us a little help," Munn said.
The Liberals promised in the 2006 campaign to "ensure that there is equitable market treatment for private woodlot owners."
So far that change has not been made and the economic prospects of private woodlot owners have worsened considerably.
David Palmer, the manager of the York Sunbury Charlotte Forest Products Marketing Board, said his members are harvesting 72 per cent less wood than they did five years ago.
"Since 2005, things have been declining for woodlot owners. Our sales have gone from $100 million annually combined to around $30 million," Palmer said.
"So essentially that represents we're at one third of the income levels, one third of the harvest, that we were five years ago."
The New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, which represents roughly 30,000 people, is meeting with the Minister of Natural Resources on Thursday.
Thursday, June 24, 2010 CBC News