**Written by Doug Powers
When I read that the federal government was getting involved in the Christmas tree industry, I couldn’t believe the first order of business wasn’t to remove the word “Christmas” from the name. Maybe that’ll come later, but for now the Obama administration is trying to help during a down economy, which of course involves a new business fee, which will cost consumers more. I can feel that recession lifting already.
President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees — the Christmas Tree Tax — to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).
The fee is 15 cents on all fresh trees for growers who sell more than 500 trees a year, a cost that will no doubt be passed along to consumers.
I looked around a little and found an article in the Miami Herald that goes into this more from the growers’ perspective. The alleged point of the fee… or tax… or levy… whatever — is to stem the growth of the artificial tree industry to promote the sale of real trees (by making them a little more expensive?):
Akin to similar programs that promote milk, beef and cotton, the new Christmas tree program will impose on U.S. domestic producers and importers an initial fee of 15 cents per tree.
A 12-member board will direct the money to generic ads and other promotions, as well as research. The promotions, according to the Agriculture Department, will present “a favorable image of Christmas trees to the general public,” with the intent of improving the public “perception” of Christmas trees and, hence, their sales.
Okay, the betting pool starts here: How long will it be until the first “Federal Christmas tree tax” waiver is issued? Probably when the first Christmas tree farm is unionized.
If real tree sales don’t pick up as a result of this initiative, look for a “cash for artificial tree clunkers” program to be introduced by next Christmas to get the faux alternatives off the streets.
Update: Implementation of the 15 cent per tree fee is reported to be delayed. Does this mean a couple months of President Obama going around the country saying “pass this Christmas tree jobs fee”?
**Written by Doug Powers
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