Ten years ago, when we began this effort to establish the CMU Checkoff, I made one promise to myself above all: that we will operate with complete transparency. If we can’t be cards up with each other when it comes to taking control of our future, I don’t know what the point is. With that in mind, after reading this update, if you feel this would be relevant to the producers in your region, feel free to pass it along.
I can’t stress enough how much time, expertise and commitment so many of you and countless others have dedicated to making our checkoff a reality. I’ve never seen a more honest, dedicated, passionate and positive group of individuals in my career. And the sheer amount of experience that we have with the many producers who have gotten us to this point and will lead us into the next phase is unparalleled.
We have good things ahead. Don’t take your eye off the ball or be distracted by misleading claims as to why we shouldn’t have a checkoff. It’s easy to get caught up in the vocal voices of a small group but have no doubt: there is a lot of support for our CMU Checkoff. I will continue to provide information openly and answer any questions directly, while sharing exactly why a mandatory CMU checkoff is needed. And why a voluntary checkoff would leave us in the exact same place we are right now: letting the competition continue to eat away at our market share.
Here’s what we know to be true.
- The Softwood Checkoff has been working for almost a decade. Look no further than the additional $2.4 billion in revenue that softwood producers have experienced as a result of an incremental 6.3 billion board foot of product.
- Contrasting the structure and operations of a mature checkoff to a checkoff that is just being established is an unfair comparison. The first three years of any checkoff take more time, energy and resources. But that initial investment is critical to having a successful checkoff that will deliver a return to each of us over time.
- There absolutely will be financial accountability built into our checkoff. That includes oversight from the DOC but also regular reporting and transparency of financial statements. It would be irresponsible not to build that accountability into our program which is exactly why we have incorporated these checks and balances accordingly.
- We are hearing the claims that assessments will go up five-fold out of the gate. This is not true. We purposely built flexibility into the Act and Order to ensure we don’t have to go back to Congress to make increases or decreases. The only people who could increase or decrease the assessment are us as producers as we will be the only members of the board of directors.
- If a voluntary checkoff would get us to where we need to be, of course that would be the right answer. But the history of voluntary checkoffs shows us time and again that producers will not contribute at an equal rate and will not contribute consistently. Without consistent, long-term investments, we can’t fund the kinds of programs that will allow us to start winning back our market share as an industry.
- The way we have structured our checkoff ensures a voice for all producers, big or small, independent or corporate. That’s essential. A checkoff that is run by a small group of producers, representing only a segment of our industry, isn’t the way we lift our entire industry up.
The roots of our industry are family-owned businesses. It’s where many of our companies started and where many of us continue to be. I’ve talked to so many of you who see the checkoff as essential to continuing your family-owned business and ensuring you can pass it down to the next generation. And, ensuring that the next generation is teed up for success. At some point, it’s hard not to wonder why anyone would object to this.
In the next few months we will be voting on the CMU Checkoff. Let’s keep talking. Let’s be honest and open about where we stand and where there may be questions. I have no doubt that the CMU Checkoff is the future of our industry and the path to greater demand for our products. Let’s move forward together.
CMU Checkoff Chair