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NYFB Praises Rough Cut Lumber Decision


Contact: Steve Ammerman, Manager of Public Affairs

518-431-5643 (office) 518-573-3617 (cell),

For Immediate Release:

May 15th, 2015


The outcome from the NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code Council will continue to allow sawn lumber that meets local standards to be used in building construction saving farms money, supporting a supply of local raw material and helping keep rural sawmills in business.

New York Farm Bureau is pleased that the members of the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council have listened to the hundreds of farmers who wrote them about their concerns and chose to continue the current policy of allowing for the use of rough cut lumber in building construction. While the final 2015 Uniform Code proposal must still go through the public comment process before reaching the Governor’s desk, our farmers are hopeful that today's unanimous decision will ensure a continued local supply of lumber will be available, saving farms money and supporting the state’s forestry industry.

The Council was considering adopting the International Building Code standards that would have required lumber used for load bearing purposes in construction to be graded and marked by a lumber grading or inspection agency, something many sawmills didn’t have access or could afford to do. The current policy that has been effectively used in New York allows for the use of sawn lumber when authorized by the local government enforcing the Uniform Code as long as it meets certain specifications and is certified by the originating mill.

More than 1,300 New York Farm Bureau members emailed and wrote to the Building Code Council about this issue.  They explained the importance of having a source for local, raw materials and the need to support local sawmills that provide jobs and tax support in rural communities.

In addition, New York State has over 450,000 people who own small tracts of forests less than 25 acres in size that are in need of harvesting. An exemption provides an important local market for lumber produced from these smaller tracts of forests. There are many remote areas in New York State that are far from retail outlets, and there is no qualified inspection agency within hundreds of miles so it is extremely difficult for rough cut lumber to be graded professionally. Local sawmills are able to step-up and fill that niche to produce lumber that meets the criteria for load bearing use and consumer demand.  

“I would like to thank the state’s Fire Prevention and Building Code Council for understanding the needs of the people of New York. Farmers were eagerly awaiting the outcome because a different decision had the potential of raising construction costs and saddling our forestry industry with expensive, unnecessary regulations. In turn, this ruling will maintain quality standards that currently exist in sawmills across our rural areas. I would also like to thank our members who made sure their voices were heard on this matter. As a collective group of farmers, we can make a difference when we speak with one voice for every farmer across the state,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau President.

"We are pleased by the decision to continue to permit many of our local sawmills to certify their wood products meet the very high standards in the code," said Eric Carlson, President and CEO of the Empire State Forest Products Association. "We are especially pleased with the support of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to continue this important exemption. Many of our local communities use locally produced lumber keeping the value here in New York State."

“The impact of this decision will be felt in communities throughout Western New York and the entire State. Restricting the use of rough cut lumber would have hurt many businesses in the lumber industry, hindered the affordability of agricultural building construction, and devalued softwood timber production. Fortunately, the positive outcome will allow for the continued use of rough cut lumber which can provide more opportunity for new mills and job growth. It will also bolster a ready market for timber sales which benefits farmers and landowners, and guarantees feasible construction supplies will be available for the agricultural community,” said Scott Alsworth, Allegany County Farm Bureau member.


New York Farm Bureau is the State’s largest agricultural lobbying/trade organization. Its members and the public know the organization as “The Voice of New York Agriculture.” New York Farm Bureau is dedicated to solving the economic and public policy issues challenging the agricultural community.