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Understanding the Benefits of the Lacey Act of 1900 for Flooring Dealers

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2010
John F LaceyJohn F. Lacey

At first glance, it might seem that the Lacey Act of 1900 (named after Iowa Representative John F. Lacey) and its amendments could limit sales of imported flooring materials. Suppliers of exotic hardwoods might be concerned that the public would shy away, wanting to contribute to neither the demise of the world’s rainforests, nor illegal importation.

But if the Lacey Act is understood by a dealer, he or she can actually use it to educate customers and promote legal flooring products. The Lacey Act, in a nutshell, states that it is a U. S. Federal offense to trade in any illegal plant material. This includes any tree products that are harvested or logged illegally, smuggled or stolen, or those that carry unpaid duties and fees. The Act also says that importers must always declare the species and origin of any wood product.

So how do all of these rules and regulations make it easier to sell imported and exotic flooring? A reputable dealer can tell his customers that under the Lacey Act, he is compelled to make sure he is dealing with suppliers, all the way back to the logging company, that are in full compliance with this protective legislation.

He can tell his customers with confidence that the harvesting of their new living room floor was done responsibly, that nothing has been stolen or smuggled, and that he has kept an account of everyone on his supply chain.

The Lacey Act provides for this kind of due diligence from everyone along the supply chain. This means that the responsible flooring dealer has copies of environmental policies, conducts traceable interviews with everyone he receives products from, and has discontinued commerce with any companies or individuals who cannot provide evidence of their compliance with the laws.

The Lacey Act protects forests and dealers by attempting to interrupt illegal behavior, as opposed to banning legitimate and positive harvesting. Boycotts on the importation of rainforest trees often backfire, according to Audubon Society expert Ken Snyder, because extra pressure applied to weak economies results in the demise of established conservation efforts.

A couple of minutes of reassuring conversation with a customer about the benefits of the Lacey Act can go a long way in exchanging reaction for understanding. Understanding leads to trust, and trust almost always leads to increased sales.