Davis Hunt S.F.P.A. Speech (1975)

Davis Hunt, “Encouraging Developments,” Southern Lumberman 229, (December 1, 1975), 52.

For obvious reasons, 1974 has been a tough year for the Southern lumber industry.  Several mills have been forced to shut down or have curtailed production.  At least 7,000 Southern sawmill workers have been laid off, according to the Southern Forest Products Association reports.

But, as bad as the situation has been, and still is, there have been some encouraging developments in 1974 that could lead to a more secure future for our industry.  Although their backs have been forced to the wall by low order files, falling prices and high costs, the great majority of Southern lumberman have not quit.  Instead, they are showing great ingenuity in cutting costs from their operations, improving production efficiency, seeking other markets and otherwise reacting to the crisis in a positive fashion.

Moreover, they have become aware that the housing crisis and has created opportunity to assure more stable housing and lumber markets in the future.

Since July, the SFPA has taken the lead with other groups in a campaign to impress the Administration and the Congress with the economic impacts of the housing crisis and to stimulate corrective actions.  This effort has been aimed not only at short-term relief, but also at a permanent solution to the long-standing problem of home financing.

The initial response of the Congress and the Ford administration has been gratifying.  Several actions have already been taken in Washington to increase the availability of mortgage financing for housing.  Whil these measures are admittedly no cure-all, they are welcome and will help.

I believe that the momentum being gained could very well carry over into the next Congress, and ultimately lead to stronger measures that will help minimize the cyclical nature of housing and lumber demand.  If that happens, we wll be better off for the experiences of this year.

I think I speak for the great majority of Southern lumberman in expressing whole-hearted support for President Ford’s war against inflation.  But, I also believe that our industry has been compelled to assume an unfair share of the burden in that struggle.  Our 1975 goals should be to correct that inequity while contributing as much as we can to the anti-inflation campaign.