Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Alternative to The Terrible Traditional Timber Market – April 2014

The Terrible Traditional Timber Market – April 2014
The Country Today, an agricultural newspaper published in Wisconsin, printed an article by landowner Dick Hall on April 16th - about the sad market situation faced by every forest owner in the State.  Hall states, “If you take time to do the math, your annual cost of production over a cutting cycle nearly always exceeds your per acre returns at harvest time.   When a farmer markets hogs or grain he knows instantly what prices to expect.  Timber prices are not available in the same way.”
Trees and logs are an agricultural commodity where the supply always has exceeded the demand, resulting in very low market prices.  Industrial globalization of the timber market has augmented this effect in the past few decades, producing the lowest demand ever for Wisconsin timber and very low market prices – well below the costs of production for a landowner.  Forest owners at best receive about 1% of the value of wood products in the stores.  All the foresters, loggers, truckers, sawmillers, etc earn a professional and profitable wage for their efforts, but the grower and the forests are typically taken advantage of by the Trillion dollar per year timber industry for their short term greed.
Making things worse for the forest owner are all the government forestry programs that are supposed to help them.  Hall, for the second time in two weeks also writes about the folly of the Managed Forest Law in Wisconsin.  Landowners are encouraged to enter this property tax program by unfair high property taxes on their forest land and the government foresters talk of “sound forest management.”   It sounds like a good thing for a landowner until they realize they must now harvest all their “mature” trees at low market prices that don’t even begin to cover their costs of owning and managing timber.  Forest owners also find they are forced to surrender control of their management plan, timber marking, and actual harvesting of trees on their lands to outsider “professionals” who are there to make good money for their work just today, leaving the landowner with a mess, damaged lands for the future, and a pittance of income that smacks of unfairness and abuse.
This timber market is well known by landowners while the professional foresters keep their heads in the sand hoping no one will notice.  The situation continues due to the dominance of a few huge corporations over the market and the government foresters and politicians, and the bottom line compromise for everyone  is that “something is better than nothing”.
Foresters as a group ignore the ethics of their profession to sustain their own paychecks.  The profession puts out prolific propaganda on the many merits of sustainable forest management to keep the masses of forest owners quiet and in the flock of “sheeple” until it is their time for slaughter – to feed the industrial  mills.  Foresters doing harvests for landowners typically choose to sacrifice the whole forest for their own instant greed, when their training should have taught them to sustainably harvest just the ‘wool’ - the annual growth, every year for a long term regular income, and only take the “mature” harvest when the individual loses its’ growth vigor.  Sustainable forestry to a professional forester is whatever sustains their own paycheck.  No forester could live on the value of the ‘advice and help’ they dole out to forest owners.  Cover ups are common and whistleblowers are ignored in the forestry profession.
The timber industry takes advantage of the tree growers and local communities in many ways, and even forces many small loggers and timber buyers to cheat the landowner just to survive.   Fraud and timber theft are rampant around the world with the rationalization is that “everyone does it and if you arrest me, you will have to arrest everyone”.  A few get rich at the expense of the planet and the people and the forestry profession keeps on talking about sustainable and green. 
Everyone is afraid to talk about this – the corporations are so powerful they control the market from top to bottom.  Foresters just protect their own jobs and growers don’t want to lose the disappointing payments – anything is better than nothing.
Forests in this region are producing about 25% of their potential growth due to high grade harvesting, over cutting, and neglect.  Less than 1 % of forest owners actively manage their crop in an informed and  business-like way.  Growers receive about 1% of the value of the wood products in the store, way less than their costs of ownership and management.   Forest owners know the truth.
There is an alternative = a better way. 
A hundred years ago, small business in the local community supplied the needs using locally grown and manufactured wood products.  This still works today – wood is the perfect fuel for small business in the local economy.  Wood is simple to grow and process and sell on a small scale, we all use wood products every day.  All the tools and methods and information are readily available today.
Wood customers can choose right now, today – to support local small business and simply avoid the exploitation of our planet and people by the big timber corporations.  Choose to buy local wood from small business and the demand will immediately be decreased - to clear cut the remaining rain forests and use illegally logged trophy wood.

Jim Birkemeier – Timber Grower
Spring Green, WI

Monday, February 17, 2014

Blowing the Whistle on the Timber Industry

Wisconsin forests are only growing at 25% of their potential and less than 1% of our forest lands are managed as a profitable and sustainable business.   Market prices have always been so low that no one values our trees and cares for them in a future oriented manner, despite the propaganda from the professionals.   Our best logs are being shipped to the Far East, exporting out jobs due to cheap labor.
Wisconsin has lost 500,000 jobs in the timber industry and wood production has fallen from $36 Billion to $16 Billion per year in just the last few decades.  This is important, trees cover half of our state.
The State of Wisconsin still makes this situation worse every day.  Public owned land comprises about 40% of the forests, including 40,000 acres along the Wisconsin Riverway, making the State the largest forest owner.  Recent harvests near Spring Green on State owned land, administered by Wisconsin DNR foresters, earned the taxpayers just a few dollars per acre per year, not even covering the administrative costs of the timber sales.  Companies from outside the region typically haul the wood to distant mills, leaving little benefit to the local community, and a big mess.  When the largest landowner sells timber at low prices, it sets the precedent for the timber industry to deal with small individual landowners.
The DNR also pressures small woodlot owners to sell their timber at similar low prices, justifying the cutting as “sound forestry”.  Combined, the State’s Managed Forest Law and free services and grant programs keep forest management as a welfare program of the government.   Landowners are kept in the flock of obedient “sheep” until it is their turn to feed the industry, then the forest owners and their timber are used by the foresters and timber industry to support their own jobs.   Everyone in the timber industry and forestry profession makes good money – except the timber grower and local community.
The bottom line is governments everywhere have always put cheap timber on the market for the benefit of the big corporations, thinking that timber harvests create jobs.  Trees are seen as not profitable to grow and are in the way of growing food and Progress. 
The forestry profession has worked hard to maintain this system, knowing that there is corruption and abuse of the forest and the forest owners, to protect their own high paying jobs.  The timber industry is an old, traditional, secretive, and huge institution that so far has continued to cover up all the scandals and silence the whistleblowers, trying to prop up some sense of respect. 
In Wisconsin, the DNR and UW Systems have kept landowners rounded up in the flock and obedient to “do the right thing for the forest.”   When we started the Wisconsin Woodland Owner’s Association, the State immediately said – “That is a great idea – we will give you the money for staff to build this fine organization.”  The person hired has always served the government, not the landowners, keeping them in the control of the State.  When we started the Sustainable Woods Cooperatives, the State immediately said, “That is a great idea – we will give you the money for staff to build this fine organization.”  The persons hired have always served the government, not the landowners, keeping them in the control of the State.”  The Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine only prints what the State wants people to read, blocking stories that promoted different ideas on forest management from the forest owner’s point of view.   The Wisconsin DNR took over FSC Certification, offering it for “free” to Wisconsin family forests in their control, making the certification a meaningless eco label.
The Wisconsin DNR built a working program with consulting foresters, all under government control, to keep the private foresters and landowners in the flock.  Only those that cooperate with government can get part of the free money and influence.  The State ignores the sales commission of the private foresters, a flagrant conflict of interest, then State retirees go into business and fleece the flock with their insider information.  The worst scandals and rip-offs of all are perpetrated by retired DNR Foresters who become consulting foresters, and prey on landowners who trust these once public servants.
Both the DNR and UW Systems only acknowledge Traditional Industrial Forestry as Sound Management, no alternative teachings or methods are allowed or even explored.   Landowners are kept under control with their MFL property tax traps and free services and bait programs and mass propaganda.
Everyone knows all this – but everyone is afraid to talk about it or work to change it.
    Foresters are afraid they would lose their job.
    Landowners are afraid they would lose their market for trees and their government subsidies.
Until we face these problems, nothing will change.  Step for Improvement:
1.       Learn that there are alternative markets for local trees in the local, regional, and world markets.
2.       Teach and encourage ALL of the choices that a landowner has today, let them choose.
3.       Promote the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products.
in the global economy, a community based wood business can best support the local economy.
4.       Educate wood customers on where products come from and how they are made.
5.       Clean up the forestry profession, expose the scandals and hear the whistleblowers.
6.       Eliminate the conflicts of interest in the timber market and sales commissions to foresters.
7.       Don’t allow retired government workers to use insider information to lobby - or for their profit.
8.       State government should support local business and wood products with their purchases.
We really control ALL of this with our purchases of wood products.
When the rich by “trophy wood” for their homes, offices, and yachts, they feed the illegally logging businesses that rips just the best trees from the natural forest, degrading the entire ecosystem.
When we buy cheap wood products on sale at the big corporation store, we feed the industrial clear cutting of the remaining rainforests – using huge equipment and cheap labor, doing extreme environmental damage to the planet for the short term greed of a few.
Buying good wood from local business builds the local economy, supports local jobs, and protects our planet from industrial logging that only makes a few even richer.
There is no excuse for ignorance in any aspect of this situation – we all have to work together to fix this.  We all have to learn to buy the best value products for our future, seeing the global impacts of our purchases.  This is the best we can do in the new global economy and marketplace.

Everyone (almost) on the planet would be better off – if we saw things globally and acted responsibly.
1.        All forest owners and local communities would choose an annual income from a small harvest that improved their forest every year. 
2.       Fair payments with no fraud or cheating would encourage forest owners to produce timber.
3.       Loggers would feel better about their work if they were paid enough to do things right.
4.       Foresters would feel better if their responsible work was accomplished by loggers.
5.       Using urban trees would take pressure off of illegal logging and clear cutting the rainforests.
6.       Using locally grown and manufactured forest products would keep the money local/regional.
7.       Other countries could put their people to work building sustainable communities at home.
8.       Everyone but the shipping companies and the few huge timber corporations would benefit.

Buy Wisconsin Wood – Grown and Made in the USA – For Global Good Use Local Wood!! 
All sizes of woodworking business would benefit if we would buy American/Wisconsin/Local wood.
Avoid the imports - On Sale in the big corporate store and online sales – Boycott Rainforest Liquidators.
Larger business will always be competing with the world markets, small local business can more easily sell direct and eliminate the middlemen and shipping costs.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A simple solution - July 2013

We are in a new and changing global economy and society, being constantly transformed by the incredible internet, universal communications, instant banking, fast global travel, and quick world-wide shipping. 
A small number of very rich and powerful people have taken advantage of this globalization and now control the economy and our governments in many ways. 
The huge corporations that now control the world gained that wealth by convincing us to buy their products.  We gave them our money – we chose to buy cheap and convenient – foolishly believing that buying cheap stuff and saving money would make us live better.   IT HASN’T
When we buy any imported things, we export our money and local jobs and build up the company and the country where the product came from.  Our purchases also directly build up the political power of that company and country.
Our political votes have little effect today, but every single purchase we make is an important vote for our future that does have an immediate effect.
Many parents have told me that they need to buy cheap stuff for their family – to have the things that they need.
Buying cheap stuff is like drinking water with a little poison in it – you don’t feel it right away but you need to know that every little bit will eventually kill you and those around you – we are all in this together.
Don’t be fooled to think you need to buy cheap stuff for your kids today – be smarter and buy good value for your family’s future.
When we buy cheap stuff it degrades the economy, decreasing our purchasing power, forcing people to buy cheaper and cheaper stuff – in a never ending downward spiral.
Buying cheap imports online or in the big box store exports our money and jobs and lowers the tax revenue of the government.  People losing their jobs or accepting low paying jobs - increases the need for welfare and food stamps – requiring higher taxes – meaning we will pay more taxes and receive less services. 
Buy quality products from local small business builds the economy, supports good jobs - and increases our purchase power in an ever growing cycle
Buying from local companies builds the economy and increases the tax revenue to support better government services at less cost to the individual.
Buying cheap stuff on sale feels good – at the moment.  Shopping is Fun and Exciting – we have a lust for stuff.   Don’t foolishly believe the big corporation is actually giving you a really good deal for stuff “on sale” and at a discount or even FREE – they are tricking you into buying stuff that is poor quality, unwanted, defective, out of date, - folks, you get what you pay for.  Or they simply lie about the price to make you think you saved money.
Big Corporations sell stuff cheap to eliminate the small companies, then raise prices when they control the market.   Be aware how the big corporations work to dominate the economy and gain power. 
Don’t follow the advertising of the big corporations – do the opposite of what they want you to do
Only buy what you need, not what the big corporations tell you that you want.
Don’t feed the monsters – you will eventually get bitten!
Starve a monster and it will soon go away.

Be a smart shopper
Buy As Local As Possible
many things are still produced here 
When you can buy local, make an extra effort to balance the bad effects of your having to buy certain imported products.
Buy from as Small a company as possible
small business is better and you get good service
Buy as Hand Made as possible.
buying from a big factory with huge machines and robots doesn’t support jobs for people
Buy the best value for the future

Many people apparently think ‘buy local’ means shopping for cheap imported stuff on sale at the neighborhood big box store. 
Cheap stuff comes at a high cost
If a product is cheapest, you must know that every corner has been cut, the earth has been abused, cheap labor has been exploited, huge amounts of energy have been used, cheating is likely involved. Cheap stuff soon ends up in the landfill at another cost to dispose of it.  Then you have to replace it at additional cost.

The American Woman – the primary shopper – is the most powerful force on earth. 

We all need to Make wise choices – there is no excuse for ignorance anymore.
Every purchase is a real vote that has an immediate effect.
In the haste to rebuild after a disaster and keep immediate costs low, the government and the insurance companies are dictating using cheap imported building materials and cheap labor.
Government spending should build the economy, not export our money to other countries.
Stimulus doesn’t work anymore because the government and most people buy cheap imported stuff foolishly believing that saving a little money this moment leads to a better life in the future.
Wood is an amazing example of how we could have a big effect right here.  We are surrounded by 16 million acres of undervalued and underutilized forests in Wisconsin, plus hundreds of million trees in our cities and villages that are mostly wasted and costly to dispose of when they are cut.
Today in Wisconsin we are exporting our best walnut and white oak logs to the far east for cheap commodity prices.  We have lost 500,000 jobs and $20 Billion in production in the Wisconsin Timber Industry in the last few decades to globalization and cheap labor.
Wood customers need to stop buying cheap imported wood substitutes or super expensive trophy wood - and enjoy the beautiful and natural wood resources growing all around us.  Using local wood directly lowers the demand for illegally logged wood and for clear cutting the rainforest.
An example:  Cheap ‘wood’ flooring  – you can bet the timber was stolen and/or illegally logged, the grower and community received little to no benefits from the harvest but was left with a huge mess in their local environment, processing was done in dangerous and dirty mills with cheap labor.  Huge amounts of energy were used in transportation
Using locally grown and manufactured wood products keeps nearly all of the value of trees in the local economy – one well paying and rewarding job could be supported by every ten acres of forest or by every 50 trees cut in a city during one year.
Support small local companies that produce natural, solid, local goods
Keep your money and our jobs in the local economy with your choices
Pay a fair price to a good company – you get what you pay for. 

cheap and convenient comes at a very high cost

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New Market - what everyone actually wants

If Wisconsin’s corn crop came in at about 50 bushels per acre on a good year, and our dairy farmers just milked their cull and sick cows after selling off their best milkers for hamburger – these would be huge stories today and this would not be accepted and tolerated.

Wisconsin actually has a more abundant crop that is managed exactly this way – yet almost nobody knows or cares….

Our ten million acres of privately owned timber grows at 25% of its potential in volume and value every year – because our forest owners have indeed sold off their good trees just leaving the cull trees to grow for the future!  Just ask any forest owner – they know what really happens in the woods.  Don’t ask a professional forester – they are so deep in the phony forestry, they won’t say a word of truth, but will likely spin a story of sustainable forestry that in reality only props up their job with little benefit to the forest or the timber grower.

The reason this problem persists is there has not been an alternative to the industrial forestry that has dominated the land for the last 150 years.  Everyone makes the best of a bad situation as it has been better than nothing.

Now – there is a much better choice for everyone and the forest.  There is a new way – just the opposite of what has been business as usual in the forest.

Forest owners around the world are learning to take control of their resources, perform a small annual harvest, make some high value wood products and sell direct to customers – eliminating all the middlemen and brokers – earning a fair price for their trees for the first time in history.  Valuing the forest for future income encourages wise long term management of the forest for the first time in history.  This is what every forest owner and every professional forester actually wants – they just never knew it was possible in the past.  Now just the effort required to bring about change is blocking much movement, but one family business keeps striving to break up the logjams of tradition and inertia.

Wisconsin’s forestry professionals refuse to acknowledge that there is an alternative to the industrial forestry that supports their jobs, but the Timber Growers business model is recognized around the world by the United Nations and other groups as the leading marketing innovation in the global timber industry today.  Timber Growers has been invited as a featured speaker at the World Teak Conference in Bangkok in March 2013 and the United Nations International Conference on Wood in S Africa next October.  Past international conference presentations have been made in India, Viet Nam, New Zealand and Timber Growers is currently participating in marketing programs in Ecuador and Brazil

Sunday, May 27, 2012

No Robots were used to make this product

Hand Made – No Robots were used in the production of this product

Everyone is talking about the shortage of good jobs.  Buy American and Buy Local are a good start, but to really support good jobs, look closer.
Even in our factories here, robots and huge machines have replaced hundreds of thousands of workers.  One big corporation now shows a TV advertisement featuring a line of robots working to make a car that can even fix itself when one robot breaks – no people are seen or needed anymore.  The company slogan in the ad is “for the human network”.    How Stupid Can We Get?? 

We all buy stuff now built primarily by robots and huge machines that have put masses of people out of work.  Then we complain about jobs and the economy.

We need to Choose to;
Buy as Local as Possible
Buy from As Small A Business as Possible
Buy as Hand Made as Possible
Buy the Best Value for the Future of the Planet

We control the economy and jobs by what we buy everyday.   We are all responsible for our current situation and only we can change our future.
Buying Smart in the new Global Economy should be our top priority.  We need to do just the opposite of what got us into this mess.

Anyone who buys imported stuff in the big corporation’s store is actively exporting your money and our jobs.  You are building businesses and countries and jobs on the other side of the world.  Workers there are buying cars, and their growing factories using more fossil fuels – all driving up the cost of our fuel at our local gas stations.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forests create new jobs in the community

A forest should support the local community with building materials, many other products, a regular income, and good jobs.  This is kind of an old fashioned idea that has been lost the past 200 years due to global industrialization.   The industrial timber market with low commodity log prices continues to consume the remaining good timber on the planet, with few benefits to the local community, despite all the talk about sustainability and certification.

But every person who cares about the planet would agree that the forest should support the local community. 

Spring Green Timber Growers has built a new high value market for the wood we harvest each year from our small family farm, creating new jobs from dead trees.  We control the whole process from growing, harvesting, sawmilling, solar kiln drying, manufacturing, and direct marketing to customers.  By eliminating all the middlemen, using the smallest amount of energy, and minimizing shipping, we earn retail prices for our timber – about 100 times the income earned by other landowners.

Wood is easy to grow and harvest and manufacture on a small scale.  Wood products have a high value in the retail market.  Wood is the perfect fuel for small business in the local community.  Everyone uses wood everywhere – everyday – so these ideas are universal.

SGTG is developing a global wood marketing system to connect local wood growers direct with customers.  First priority is to use what people have to meet the local needs of the community, then export their extra wood to population centers that need wood products. 

Local Needs – Training and coaching can quickly get a small woodshop in operation. 

Global Marketing – a new website will link the grower with customers anywhere in the world.  Simple shipping of small packages to container loads is ongoing every day now.  Credit card payments online make payments easily.  Instant communication and global travel now connect people everywhere. 

The “American Dream” has gone global.  Anyone, Anywhere can run a small business to sell something that they make.  The only limitation is the imagination.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big is Bad - Create Jobs Today

Buying Local In the Global Economy

We have all chosen to buy lots of ‘cheap’ and ‘convenient’ stuff as we have lived the good lifestyle on plentiful natural resources while accumulating thoughtless and irresponsible debt.  Cheap stuff comes at a very high price. 

We are all responsible for our current economic crisis and the shortage of jobs.  Take a close look at what you have bought the last few years….   We can also change things – starting right now – to develop the best economic position possible for our future.

Many people apparently think ‘buy local’ means shopping for imported stuff on sale at the neighborhood big box store.  Lusting over imported manufactured stuff has exported our money and our jobs.   American industry and jobs have crumbled away.   We export our natural resources, ship materials half way around the world, minimize labor and production costs, ship the products back half way around the world – then complain we have recession and unemployment!!

Every purchase you make is a real vote that immediately counts to affect the future of our planet.  Every purchase you make builds up the company and country where the thing is from.   Every purchase you make has a political effect too, as the big companies exert real and immediate influence on our politicians.

We have created this monster we face today with our selfish and short-sighted purchases.  We can choose to change this now – just stop feeding the monster and it will go away.

How to “Create Jobs”
Today, most of the stuff we buy is made in a big factory with big machines and robots and likely in another country.  Government Regulations and Legal Lawsuits make labor very expensive in America.  Americans everyday are more lazy and fat - and in love with welfare, and the lottery.   Then we say, “we must create more jobs….”

All the politicians talk about creating jobs, yet fail to address the real problems.  Government does a thousand times more to discourage American jobs than the feeble efforts of talk and “stimulus”. 

As a business owner – one thing would get me to hire more employees – SALES!!  Government on the State and Federal Level has been a huge hindrance to my business for decades.  They should just get out of the way – today more than ever!

Globalization has CHANGED the planet
The internet – instant global communications – is the most amazing creation ever.  The airplane is second.  Earth – our economics – has truly changed and there is no going back.

Everyone needs to travel and watch the rest of the world to have a realistic picture of where you fit into the big picture and your effect on others.  Most people choose to be ignorant and don’t want to believe their lifestyle is very wasteful and damaging to the planet.

Homo Sapiens are being Homogenized.  Worker wages are being pressured to a more common-ground level.  High paid American workers will get less in the future and workers in the Far East will demand more.  There is no stopping this trend – a wise person will work within it to arrive at the best position possible for themselves.

We are mixing it up today around the world – nothing is hidden and there is no excuse for ignorance.  Seeing how much we are all about the same is our best hope for survival now.  We are all in this together and better learn to get along.

The Most Powerful Force On Earth
The best chance we have is to rebuild our local economies and communities that have been destroyed by the big corporations.  We created them ourselves with our lusts for cheap and convenience, and we can change the world by making smarter spending decisions - from now on.  The American Woman – the Shopper – is the most powerful force on earth today.  The Shopper has the free choice to support whatever company and country with the power of their purchase.  The Shopper is the one who can create jobs with their votes.  Every single vote counts.

Simple Steps to Change the Economy:
  1. Buy As Local As Possible
  2. Buy from a company As Small As Possible
  3. Drive as little as Possible
  4. Do the Opposite (of what got us here)

Big is Bad – most of the time….
Generalizations are not all true, but the long term trends now show the route we are going - being dominated by bigger and bigger corporations that dominate the Government also – are not good or sustainable for most humans. 

Do the opposite of what the big corporations and their puppet politicians want you to do.
Be discerning when listening to their talk. 
If you feed the monster – don’t complain when you get bitten!

People all over are very angry, fearful, and without much hope. 

There is HOPE
The American Dream of one person making a difference is now a Global Possibility for any human being.   The information and tools are becoming more freely available everywhere today.   Grab Globalization and take advantage of the good alternatives.

Most people may not care, but for those who choose – great opportunities are present today.  has detailed articles