An industry proposed tax on Christmas trees has been temporarily shelved, according to White House spokesmen and the Agriculture Department. The Christmas Tree Promotion, Research, and Information Order, initially approved by President George W. Bush in 2008, was widely criticized by bloggers and media pundits, who jokingly dismissed the proposal as a Christmas tax.
The problem, however, is that the tax was supported by tree growers and tree farms. The program, which was drafted by the tree industry, would charge growers and importers 15 cents per tree. The money raised by this tax, estimated at $2 million, would be spent on advertising and marketing.
This advertising, industry insiders say, is necessary to resuscitate a floundering industry. Fresh-tree sales have declined by 6 million over the last 16 years while the sale of artificial trees has doubled over the last five years, increasing to over 17 million.
“We need an industry wide effort to help all growers compete with the fake-tree industry. A vibrant market for real Christmas trees will keep small farms like mine alive.” said an Ohio tree grower.
The tree promotion program would have been one of 18 other similar programs approved by the federal government. Promotion programs routinely impose fees on various agricultural industries to pay for marketing programs and awareness campaigns.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer