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Title: Profile 2009: softwood sawmills in the United States and Canada

Author: Spelter, Henry; McKeever, David; Toth, Daniel;

Date: 2009

Source: Research Paper FPL-RP-659. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. [55] pages.

Publication Series: Research Paper (RP)


Between 2006 and the end of 2009, the production capacity of the softwood lumber sector covered by this report in the United States and Canada has shrunk from 190.8 million m3 (nominal) to 166.4 million m3. The corresponding number of mills slumped from 1,025 to 875 over the same time and from 1,322 recorded in 1995. The Canadian capacity went from 88.2 million m3 to 71.6 million m3,  a loss of 19%, while the U.S. capacity dropped from 102.6 million m3 to 94.8 million m3, a loss of 8%. These losses are attributable to three unprofitable years of sawmilling caused by the contraction in construction. Construction and repair and remodeling of homes each accounted for about 35% of total lumber consumption in 2006. Their downturn has caused demand to lag substantially behind the capacity that was built up to supply the prior boom. The greater drop in Canadian capacity can be deduced from a number of factors including the imposition of tariffs of up to 15% on exports to the U.S. and the strengthening of the Canadian dollar. Based on underlying population growth, the demand for home building is expected to rebound but somewhat slowly until the overhang of unoccupied homes built in the former building surge is absorbed. Further attrition of capacity is likely, as profitability is unlikely to return until a combination of recovering demand and contracting supply due to further capacity attrition equalize in the market.

Keywords: Softwood, United States, inventories, Canada, forest products industry, statistics, sawmills, timber, sawmill capacity, sawmilling, sawmills, employment, wood end-use markets, market review, lumber, supply, demand

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Spelter, Henry; McKeever, David; Toth, Daniel. 2009. Profile 2009: softwood sawmills in the United States and Canada. Res. Pap. FPL-RP-659. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 55 p.


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