Forest products dispute escalates
J.D. Irving Ltd. unhappy with purchasing through marketing board
A dispute between J.D. Irving Ltd. and the province's forest products marketing board has escalated.
The company has suspended deliveries of pulpwood from some private woodlot owners.
This follows a recent ruling by the province's Forest Products Commission that requires the company to buy through the marketing boards.
Robert Fawcett, JDI's director of forestry relations, says the board's involvement creates uncertainty.
"What one marketing board manager last week at a meeting said what he wanted to do was supply us with a list of names once a week on who might want to sell us wood, and we just can’t run our business on a week of hope, we need certainty of supply," Fawcett said.
The province's wood producers aren't happy.
Paul Boucher owns 364 hectares of woodland, some of which he sells locally.
Boucher says JDI bullies wood producers.
"First of all, they want a contract, and the way we do our business with the marketing boards, they have directors and we have a manager. We'll say 'go try and get a contract,' but it's got to be a fair contract."
A recent ruling by the province's Forest Products Commission requires the company to buy through the marketing boards.
JDI had been negotiating directly with private woodlot owners, picking and choosing who it deals with.
But the latest move in a longstanding dispute between JDI and the marketing boards is an ad printed in Irving-owned newspapers.
In the ad, the company says the decision creates "uncertainty."
JDI says that combined with an oversupply of pulpwood means for the time being it won't be buying pulpwood from producers with whom it doesn't already have contracts.
According to one marketing board rep, that totals about 16 truckloads per week.
Ken Hardie, manager of the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, says JDI is trying to bypass the system.
"The whole basis of the boards is that all woodlot owners are treated fairly, and the main current situation with JD Irving is they would like to pick and choose who sells wood, whereas the boards represent all producers."
Hardie says he met with Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup earlier Thursday to brief him on the situation.
He plans to meet with both the company and the province Friday.