The B.C. government is deferring collection of stumpage fees on timber harvested from Crown land for three months to help an industry already near a standstill before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deferral, subject to interest charges, is available to holders of tree farm licences, replaceable forest licences and first nations woodland licences, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said April 30. The deferral represents $80 million to assist companies dealing with slumping markets, U.S. border tariffs and now the coronavirus.
Recipients must be in “good financial standing” with the province and proceeding with their replanting obligations for Crown land harvesting, the forests ministry said in a statement.
Donaldson said the 90-day deferral will be reviewed and could be extended if market conditions don’t improve.
Susan Yurkovich, president of the B.C. Council of Forest Industries, agreed with Donaldson that stumpage relief is the industry’s first priority to keep some people operating.
“The deferral of stumpage fees is an important short-term measure to help alleviate some of the unprecedented financial pressure brought on by the COVID-19 crisis,” Yurkovich said. “It will help B.C.’s forest companies put people back to work in communities as markets come back and we move towards economic recovery.”
Donaldson said the deferral is designed to avoid challenges from the U.S. lumber industry, which have resulted in many rulings over three decades. The deferral is not a loan or subsidy in trade law, he said.
B.C. stumpage is calculated every three months to determine the market value of logs harvested from provincial land.