Ensuring Lacey Act Compliance
What once was a little-known piece of legislation that affected only the lumber industry became front page news in recent years with the raid at Gibson Guitars. As lumber importers, J. Gibson McIlvain has been strongly interested in the case. (If you’re not already familiar with it, you can read about the basic gist of the Lacey Act here.) Since more than half our business has to do with importing exotic hardwoods, we’ve been curious about the details of the Lacey Act since day 1. Until recently, vague wording such as “due diligence” had yet to be clarified. While we’ve tried to exercise just that in thoroughly researching and documenting our supply chain, we’ve been unsure whether we’d meet the nebulous standards that had been erected.
As part of their settlement with the Department of Justice, Gibson Guitars has established a “Lacey Act Compliance Program.” While this program is an internal policy within Gibson Guitars, it’s also something we think will provide the clarification and practical precedent for future DOJ cases. As we’ve carefully reviewed the provisions of this settlement, we’ve grown even more secure in our assumptions that the safeguards we already have in place as an Importer of Record will continue to serve us — and our customers — well into the future.
1. Policy Communication
The first point in Gibson Guitar’s new program encourages communication between the company and its suppliers regarding Gibson’s policies.
In our more than 2 centuries in the lumber business, J Gibson McIlvain has formed well-established relationships with sawmills across the United States and the world.
We not only make a habit of clearly communicating our expectations, but we also make sure our suppliers know that we need them to communicate any changes to local law that may influence our compliance with the Lacey Act. We’ve always required legally sourced lumber with thorough source documentation.
2. Lumber Origination
The second point in Gibson Guitar’s program requires asking questions to find out details about lumber origin and the supply chain.
J. Gibson McIlvain has always made sure each new supplier we use has been proven to be able to consistently supply lumber that not only meets our high standards of quality but also complies with legal requirements and can provide documentation regarding land concession, forestry management, and export permission.
When changes in grade, pricing, or availability occur, we inquire about whether the lumber source or processing procedure has changed, making sure legal considerations have been met.
3. Thorough Research
The third aspect of the Gibson Guitar program requires independent research before purchasing lumber from a supplier.
Again, J. Gibson McIlvain’s own practice has historically included such careful measures. We conduct thorough initial inspections before signing on with new suppliers, but the process doesn’t end there.
From our independent agents on the ground across the globe to third-party local legal experts and even annual visits by members of the J. Gibson McIlvain family, we make sure that each of our sources is continuing to harvest lumber in a responsible way — not only legally, but also environmentally and socially.
This comparison is continued in Part 2.