2022 SFPA Annual Meeting Recap

2022 SFPA Annual Meeting

The Southern Forest Products Association held its annual meeting at The Westin Nashville October 19-21, 2022, and it was a great opportunity for members to catch up, network, and plan for 2023 initiatives to promote Southern Pine and raise the industry’s exposure on the global scene.

The two-and-a-half days spent in Nashville also allowed members and exhibitors to check out the Music City Center, home of the 2023 Forest Products Machinery & Equipment Expo from August 23-25, 2023; ask questions about setup, move-in, and move-out; explore the possibilities for onsite advertising and sponsorship; review lodging arrangements; and much more in anticipation of Expo’s new home!

It also gave members and staff time to discuss international programs and efforts, review funding for 2023 initiatives domestically and abroad, celebrate the 2021 John Edgar Rhodes Sawmill Safety Excellence Awards recipients, conduct our annual board meeting, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and savories of Nashville. Read more below!

Southern Yellow Pine Export Roundtable

As part of the SFPA 2022 annual meeting, members and staff came together to discuss international efforts as part of the Southern Yellow Pine Export Roundtable.

SFPA’s International Program began in the mid-1980s as an opportunity to leverage the industry’s time contribution with federal funding. For the past two years, we learned how to communicate and promote wood products via zoom and email and it worked. However, we know that’s not a substitute for in-person events, which is why we’re excited to already see a resurgence in trade shows and face-to-face events as the world awakens from the COVID-19 pandemic.

So how is demand going abroad? A wood delegation of more than 20 individuals traveled to the Dubai Wood Show, heralded as the show for doing international wood business in the Middle East, in March. Charles Trevor, who is the U.K.-based consultant leading SFPA’s presence there, said the team representing Southern Pine and American softwoods received 80+ written inquiries in four hours showing a pent-up demand for softwoods and Southern Pine. 

The wood co-operators the Softwood Export Council (SEC), APA, and American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) are developing the 2023 Unified Export Strategy that will be submitted for approval later this year. Those priorities include, but are not limited to:

  • Sustainability messaging
  • Leadership transition
  • Continued collaboration
  • Expanding the European market for U.S. softwood, and
  • Increased participation in international activities

In the meantime, SFPA has received requests for Reverse Trade Missions from Peru, Mexico, and Pakistan. What is an RTM? A group of qualified and vetted buyers are hosted in the United States so they can learn more about lumber manufacturing, the sustainability of our resources, lumber grading, quality control, and other relevant aspects of the softwood industry.

What does it cost you? Nothing except your willingness to participate and support the missions to promote Southern Pine and American softwoods. Want to get in on the action? Contact SFPA Executive Eric Gee at egee@sfpa.org.

Funding for International Efforts

Each year, SFPA goes through the process of reapplying for funding, justifying the spending, and requesting federal dollars to support softwood lumber and Southern Pine international promotion. We recently received our feedback letter from the USDA regarding the program.

It’s been well noted the current administration’s agenda is focused on climate change initiatives, green energy, and sustainability. The USDA appreciates our message and commitment to providing and promoting the greenest, most sustainable, legally harvested source of sustainable wood fiber in the world and has encouraged SFPA to continue incorporating that messaging throughout its programs.

Funding for SFPA’s international efforts comes from four primary sources within the USDA?s Foreign Agricultural Service:

The majority of SFPA’s international program dollars come from MAP, which provided $733,352 in 2022, and FMD, which provided $366,658 for promotion efforts last year. SFPA has received $335,000 from the ATP to be used over four years, while the association can apply for EMP funding as necessary on a per-project basis.

SFPA has requested a 2.5% increase in MAP funding and a 4.1% increase in FMD for 2023 efforts, which the USDA should decide on by early next year. Here’s where funding from each bucket would be focused given market conditions, demand, and opportunities for growth:

  • MAP (in descending order): Europe, South America, Mexico, Middle, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and China.
  • FMD (in descending order): Caribbean/Central America, Middle East, India, China, and Southeast Asia
  • ATP: Chile and the Caribbean.

It’s worth noting that because the Caribbean is Southern Pine lumber’s closest international market, SFPA and its partners plan to (invest) a significant amount of time, energy, and money promoting SYP there.