WASHINGTONApril 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Secretary of Agriculture announced a partnership agreement between the Softwood Lumber Board (SLB) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help coordinate research, demonstration projects, and market development for innovative wood building technologies in the built environment throughout the United States.

The SLB is an industry-funded check-off program established to promote the benefits and uses of softwood lumber products in outdoor, residential, and non-residential construction, and the Board supports various programs and initiatives that work towards increasing the demand for softwood lumber products.

The agreement recognizes several goals and objectives including the creation of jobs in rural communities. The softwood lumber industry is an important job creator and supports hundreds of local communities, and building with wood helps create jobs along each stage of the supply chain. The agreement also emphasizes the needs for optimizing research and development in wood building product applications and expanding the use of wood in construction.

Marc Brinkmeyer, the Chairman of the Softwood Lumber Board, emphasized that “increasing the demand for forest products in building materials is vital if we are to support active and responsible forest management and wild fire mitigation.” The utilization of wood in building products also provides environmental benefits, protecting and benefiting ecosystem services such as water quality, air quality, and wildlife habitat, while also reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in both construction and operation.

Brinkmeyer thanked Secretary Vilsack for his efforts in developing the agreement between the two entities, noting, “This partnership agreement provides a framework for future collaboration between USDA and the softwood lumber industry. We look forward to continuing our work with USDA and are grateful for Secretary Vilsack and his work in building the foundation for what will be a long-lasting and meaningful partnership.”