Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has asked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to open “consultations” with Canada over lumber pricing. In an Aug. 18 letter to Kirk, Baucus contends the British Columbia government is selling timber it owns for softwood lumber production “at fire-sale stumpage prices.” He claims such sales “circumvent the intent” of the 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement.

A B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range spokesman says the province has been honoring the 2006 agreement, saying, “There is no basis for U.S. trade action against British Columbia.” He adds: “Rather than launching formal trade action, the U.S. should continue to work to understand the B.C. timber pricing system through ongoing talks.”