US domestic manufacturers and importers of softwood lumber have voted to approve the formation of a softwood lumber research and promotion programme.

The decision is the outcome of a referendum held by the US Department of Agriculture from May 23 to June 10 to determine whether to implement the programme.

In the final tally, 67% of voters, representing 80% of the volume of softwood lumber manufactured by those voting in the referendum, supported implementing a new programme.

It will be a self-help programme, administered by board members, who have been selected by the US secretary of agriculture and funded through industry member assessments.

Companies that ship or import more than 15 million board feet of softwood lumber annually will be asked to pay an initial rate of 35 cents per thousand board feet.

Total income is estimated to be US$12.4-19m per year based on shipment levels of 40-60 billion board feet.

One of the aims of the promotion is to fight back against plastic and fibre-cement building products.