Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Grower's Take on 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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Full Value Forestry Conferences start in Plain WI this April

Full Value Forestry Conference and Tours       Plain Green TTEC – April 26& 27,  2013
Plain, WI
9am      Registration, coffee, snacks, displays of local wood products, building tour
                       Display of South American Hardwoods from growers in Brazil and Ecuador
9:30     Introductions and Welcome
10am   Full Value Forestry Overview – Jim Birkemeier, owner of Spring Green Timber Growers
11am   Bus Tours -  half of the group will participate in each location
                        Timbergreen Farm – forestry and on farm wood manufacturing facility
                                   Natural Forestry, Restoration Forestry, Plantation Forestry, Urban Forestry
                                          Jim Birkemeier
                                   Arthroscopic Logging and Directional felling
                                           Mike Neta - Sustainable Forestry Systems
                                   Sawmilling logs, solar kiln drying lumber
                                            Alex Green - Red Beard Woodworks
                                   Wood Workshop Operations
                                             Eric Olson - Concept Design and Building
                        Spring Green Timber Growers Store & Laser Shop – Downtown Spring Green
                                   Design and Production for Laser Cut and engraved wood
                                   Marketing Wood Products on the Internet
                                                Matt and Amie Van Susteren - Timber Green Woods
                                   Retail Store Operations and Social Media Tools for Selling Wood
                                                Amy Mills - Spring Green Timber Growers
12:30 – 1:30   Lunch will be at the Wisconsin Riverside Resort
1:45 – 2:15     Bus Tours – groups will switch locations
2:30     Plain Green TTEC
                  Promoting the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products
          market plan and training program
                  Fine Finishing Demonstration – Shawn Olmstead
4pm     Summary and adjourn
Registration will begin in Mid-March.
Maximum attendance – 100 per day.
for more information, contact Jim Birkemeier    (608) 588-7342
Article on Full Value Forestry

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wisconsin's Biggest Missed Opportunity

Compared to our corn, hay, soybeans, dairy, beef farmers – Wisconsin’s tree farmers only score about 25% of their potential volume and value growth.

Forest owners know almost nothing about what is actually our State’s most abundant agricultural crop and the level of management of 10,000,000 acres of private forest is disgraceful and mostly destructive to the future of the resource.  Most harvests take just the best trees and leave a mess of damage.  Today, many of our best walnut and white oak trees are being cut and exported to the far East for manufacturing, while local timber prices and market demand are at an all time low.   500,000 jobs and half of the production of the timber industry in Wisconsin has recently been lost due to mechanization and globalization.

Low market prices for trees are the cause of the neglect and high-grading – timber has always been a plentiful and very cheap commodity, so forest owners have had little incentive to learn about their timber crop or manage their trees in a future minded way.

Many landowners have worked hard to follow the advice of the professional foresters in industry, government, and universities.  Over and over I hear, “I did everything the foresters have told me, but the income from the harvest is not worth the damage to my land.”  

An occasional short sighted profit is often taken by a forest owner as it is better than nothing, but if the landowner knew the real value of their wood products, they would be shocked and feel shortchanged by the timber industry.

Our family tried everything recommended by the DNR for many years and sold timber several times to commercial sawmills.  Benefits for our efforts were insignificant compared to the amount of work and the value of our investment in the forest.

In the huge timber industry, the forest owner is the only person who does not make a fair income for their time and investment.

No professional forester could ever live off of the money that the forest owner’s gain from the professional’s advice.

In the forestry profession, “sustainable forestry” is when the professional foresters’ job is supported and their wages are paid.  No forest owner ever earns a profitable or sustainable income despite all the experts’ talk about sound forestry and green programs.

Efforts to earn a fair price for landowners in Wisconsin have been undercut by the government subsidies in Canada and the illegal logging in the tropics and Siberia.  When most timber in the global markets is not paid for at any significant level, Wisconsin’s timber industry can not remain competitive when landowners want to be paid for their trees.

Unless people in Wisconsin and our leaders face the truth about our huge forest resource, we will continue to squander this vast and potentially valuable resource.

No one wants to admit this is true, even though they know it is so. 
Everyone is afraid of change and settled in a system.
No one values timber in the first place, so it is no big deal either way.
Professionals don’t want to admit their failure or risk their jobs.
Forest owners don’t want to admit they have been duped for so long. 
Forest owners also are afraid they won’t be able to sell their timber or get DNR tax breaks or management grants.

There is a working and rewarding alternative timber market for anyone who wants to participate.
This working system is what every forest owner and every professional forester would want if they knew about it.   is a new and growing direct market to connect the consumers with the producers.
The goal is to promote the use of locally grown and manufactured wood products – first to meet local needs, then to export extra wood to other markets.

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

Say "No" to Robots

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Timbergreen Farms is the Wisconsin Small Family Business of the Year for 2012

Timbergreen Farm wins the Wisconsin Small Family Business for 2012
A new documentary - Timbergreen Farm Story of Sustainability is online now   has the details!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Forests Should Support The Local Economy!!

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, December 29, 2011

Spring Green Timber Growers Sales and Jobs Shoot Up 500%

A combination of factors increased our sales this year in a multi-facetted global wood products marketing campaign.   Sure we have nice wood with a good story, but it is the hard and creative work by Timber Growers staff that has made our small local business a world-wide success.  My choice is to hire really smart people, teach them a little woodworking, and give them the freedom to express themselves.  My store managers in particular have taken Timber Growers to a higher orbit of sales success this year.

First, Amie Fisher and Matt Van Susteren have taken our salvaged dead elm, oak, birch, walnut, & cherry timber and created a unique product line that people love to see and touch.  Each piece is a one-of-a-kind work of art and love.  Amie is a painter and Matt is a potter, but recently they put their minds to woodworking and have thrived.

One year ago they introduced our wood products on a website for hand made products - - and our internet sales took off in the month before Christmas.  This year sales of Christmas gifts and ornaments became our main business – with an increase of 500% over last year.  We have already hired more workers and I plan to double our production and staff again in 2012. 

In addition to retail internet sales, Fisher and Van Susteren have developed a wholesale catalog of our wood products and are quickly developing that market also.  Cutting boards and corporate gifts are popular wholesale products.  Wholesale shows and working with manufacturing representatives are generating growing interest quickly.

The duo also has taken finished products to Retail shows in Chicago and Vancouver, gaining sales and exposure for their beautiful wood creations. 

Local sales in the Timber Growers store downtown Spring Green and the flooring sales at Timbergreen Farm have not been sustainable in 2011, so the diversity of marketing programs and products has been essential to our business growth.   We will keep working hard on the store and flooring installation business to promote the use of locally grown and manufactured forest products.

Beautiful, Artistic, Hand-Crafted, Natural, Sustainably-Harvested, Solar Kiln-Dried, Solid wood products command high market demand and value, allowing me to put a growing number of people to work, utilizing just a portion of the trees that naturally die each year in our 200 acre forest here at Timbergreen Farm.  I choose to sell products that are as natural as possible, using the smallest tools practical, and maintaining the maximum amount of human touch and love.

Jim Birkemeier – Timber Grower!