USDA to help industry promote increased use of paper

The US Department of Agriculture has posted a proposal to assist industry to research and promote the use of paper in many of its forms. The program is designed to help overcome declines in paper markets in the US which have been experienced since 2000. The proposed activity will be funded by a levy on paper and is authorized by legislation giving USDA the power to become involved in agricultural and forestry research and promotion activities.

According to the supporting documentation,  about 68.5 million tons of U.S. paper and paper-based packaging to be covered under the program were produced in 2011. Of the 68.5 million short tons, 50.1 percent was containerboard (the raw material for corrugated cardboard), 29.1 percent was printing, writing and related paper, 18.3 percent was paperboard (sometimes known as cardboard or boxboard), and 2.5 percent was kraft packaging paper. Exports totaled about 11.5 million, or 17 percent of domestic production, and about 16% of this went to Canada. Imports totaled 7.5 million tons, of which about 58.6 percent was from Canada.

The USDA proposal provides much information about US paper markets. Assuming the industry agrees to a mandatory levy of 35 cents per ton of paper manufactured or imported, the project is likely to lead to activities promoting the use of paper which will have an impact not only in the US but also in Canada.

The proposal for the Paper and Paper-Based Packaging Promotion, Research and Information Order, and a link to post comments or view the comments of others, can be seen at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=AMS-FV-11-0069-0001 .  To be considered by USDA, comments must be posted by March 4.

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