Ricketts, Wicker, Britt Introduce the Strengthen Wood Products Supply Chain Act
February 2, 2024
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Katie Boyd Britt (R-AL) introduced the Strengthen Wood Products Supply Chain Act. The bill would fix the federal agency mismanagement that has delayed the processing of wood imports. The delays have led to lengthy delays and high storage costs for American businesses and consumers. Ricketts’ bill would cut red tape by requiring agencies to inform importers on violations of their shipments and resolve concerns efficiently.
“When I was Governor of Nebraska, we successfully improved the customer service experience and got government out of the way so our economy could thrive,” said Ricketts. “I came to Washington to demand the Biden administration do the same. American businesses and consumers are paying the price for their bureaucratic mess at our ports. My Strengthen Wood Supply Chain Act would force these agencies to be responsive about addressing potential violations and eliminate unnecessary red tape.”
“There are too many federal agencies involved in the import process,” said Wicker. “The communication cluster is delaying shipments, causing businesses and consumers to bear the brunt of storage costs. Even worse, the delays are so bad that customers keep paying for products they still have not received. Our legislation would streamline the processes and stop adding insult to injury.”
Bill text can be found here.
Specifically, this bill would:
· Outline clear compliance procedures for imports under their respective jurisdictions to communicate with one another;
· Establish and follow a reasonable timeline for making Lacey Act enforcement decisions;
· Inform the importer of the specific suspected violation and allow for a response from the importer before proceeding with legal action;
· Provide testing results and allow the importer to replicate the test for a reasonable fee;
· Offer compliance assistance to importers and create dispute resolutions and voluntary disclosure procedures; and
· Allow flexibility for shipments to be moved to a bonded warehouse to cut down on tens of thousands of dollars in demurrage fees at the port.
The Lacey Act was created to prohibit the importation of plants and products and expanded in 2008 to contain wood products. All products are checked at ports of entry in the United Statesand typically processed without issue. If a shipment is flagged or stopped, importers will typically try to work with federal authorities to determine next steps. Three coordinating federal agencies claim authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, Customs and Border Patrol, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
This has led to unclear procedures, a lack of communication across multiple agencies, and general bad bureaucracy. Agencies often won’t share the nature of the violation in a timely fashion or even at all. On multiple occasions, American businesses have waited months or even years fruitlessly trying to discover the nature of the violation. They are bounced back and forth between federal agencies without ever receiving clarity or even the ability to dispute their case.
Ultimately businesses and consumers are paying the price. The red tape has caused an uptick of wood importation delays, lengthy storage costs, and lost product. These have led to a ripple effect of increased wood costs during the Biden administration.