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Eco-label for lumber moves forward

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Aproposal to establish a grade stamp for eco-certified softwood lumber will be discussed at a July 16 public hearing in Kansas City, Mo. The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), which is holding the forum at the Kansas City Marriott, hopes to solicit input from industry stakeholders in order to measure support for a certification system that would be similar to the grade stamps now administered by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) and the Department of Commerce.

The LBM Institute, the educational and research arm of NLBMDA, is also gathering comments via an online survey. At a later date, this information will be presented to the ALSC, which will determine whether an eco-labeling program can be implemented as a grade stamp attribute based on a common set of eco-forest management standards. Such a system would eliminate costly chain-of-custody requirements at the dealer level, according to proponents.

For more information about the July 16 hearing, or to participate in the survey, visit the NLBMDA’s Website at www.dealer.org .

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Honda lawn mowers recalled

BY HBSDEALER Staff

American Honda Motor Corp. is recalling about 20,500 Honda Lawn Mowers, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Arear shield attached to the lawnmower can break off and be thrown at the operator, posing a laceration risk. The company has received one report of this incident, but no injuries have been reported.

The recall includes HRX walk-behind lawn mowers, and the items were sold from Oct. 27, 2007, through June 2008.

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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac woes could lead to Fed takeover

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Following a slew of funding problems for government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal government is considering taking over the two organizations, according to a report by the New York Times.

The two mortgage companies, which are government-sponsored entities (GSEs), have had difficulty raising funds in the face of the housing market downturn.

According to the report, a plan is under consideration by the Fed to place Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship, which means losses on home loans under their names would be paid by taxpayers. The newspaper cited individuals briefed with the government’s plan, although the sources also said no action is imminent.

Congress created Fannie Mae during the Great Depression and created Freddie Mac in the 1970s. Later, legislators eased some restrictions on the two organizations to help spur growth, allowing them to cash in on the slew of jumbo mortgages that eventually entered the market. Like many other mortgage companies, the two groups were deeply hurt by fallout in the housing market. But unlike other mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collectively hold huge relative chunk of the outstanding mortgages in the United States.

Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to slide further today, after plunging throughout the week. If the government were to take over the companies, their stock would be worth “little or nothing,” according to the New York Times.

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