Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Read ...

The NCTA office has been busy this morning – even busier than usual this time of the year. In case you missed it (and at least according to Twitter, almost no one has), several news media reported that Obama had donned a Grinch outfit and swept in to ruin Christmas for everyone by instituting a Christmas Tree tax.

Raise your hand if you heard this story and worried about the effect it would have on your Christmas Tree this year … ok, you can put your hands down because we want to set the story straight. There is NO Christmas Tree tax.

Yesterday, the USDA announced a final rule for the Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, also known as a checkoff program. Not sure what that means? Well here are the basics:

1) President Obama does not hate Christmas – this program has nothing to do with the Obama Administration. In fact, agricultural producers have created promotional boards like this one since 1966. Christmas Tree producers, as an industry, began work on a potential checkoff program, more than four years ago.

2) Christmas Trees are not the only agricultural commodity that have a promotion board. If you’ve ever heard of “Got Milk?” or “The Incredible Edible Egg,” then you’re familiar with the work of promotion boards. Many producers, from dairy farmers to livestock producers to blueberry growers, have created research boards because it increases their markets and they prosper.

3) This is not your tax dollars at work. There are zero tax dollars involved here. Some have asked about the necessity of government involvement – this is to ensure fairness and is required by law. But the industry foots the bill for all necessary costs and administration.

4) You’re not going to see higher prices when you go to purchase your tree this Christmas. This is self-funded by producers who sell or import more than 500 trees. In fact, many growers have been paying much more than 15 cents a tree in the past to voluntary marketing programs, as well as their individual marketing costs.

We know there’s a lot of misinformation floating around out there, but we want to make sure you, the consumers, have the facts. Click here for more information.

Update: Just wanted to share a couple of articles we've seen.


Anonymous said...

If the Christmas tree growers want to promote fresh trees, terrific. You can all chip in some $ to do so, although you've tried this and it didn't work out although it was for your own benefit. If you can't promote your OWN industry, too bad - you only have yourselves to blame.

However, it's NOT the role of government to promote Christmas tree growers...or the milk, pork or other producers for whom similar programs have been run by the gov't (even if the gov't claims that these programs were "successful") ESPECIALLY if the industry can't even promote itself. These programs themselves should be abolished.

Come on, this isn't the gov't helping to "jump start" some fledgling new industry that's of critical national importance to our future economic viability!

This is a GREAT example of where the gov't could reduce headcount (yes, actually fire some unnecessary employees!) by eliminating programs that private industry should be responsible to do -- or not do.

Your association shouldn't be relying on the gov't to do for you what you haven't been able to do for itself.

Rick Miller said...

I think, contrary to your opinion, consumers DO have the facts. They make choices in the marketplace based on preference and price. This is known as the free market, and it has served the consumer very well.

The more I think about it, I am coming to the conclusion that some in this industry have miscalculated consumer demand for the product, and are looking for a way to unload before experiencing the loss that naturally comes from such mistakes. Such firms should rethink their approach, rather than trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

RealTrees said...

Anonymous - You're actually agreeing with the farmers. A checkoff program is EXACTLY what you describe ... an industry chipping in its own funds to promote their product. A checkoff is not a government program - in fact, all administrative costs are billed back to the industry so there are zero tax dollars involved.

Anonymous said...

Real Trees - My point is that the gov't shouldn't be involved at all and that the Checkoff program itself isn't a role the gov't should be playing. The fact that the gov't (e.g., the USDA) runs such a program requires taxpayers to fund headcount and other costs. For example, it's taken your association 3 years of applying and lobbying to the USDA to get them to approve your application for a Checkoff program.

Anonymous said...

Please do everyone a favor and keep the government out of this business. The US recession is the cause of too much bad government activity.

It has not required a government handout for 500 years. Why is it all of a sudden a problem? The tree has been a symbol of Christianity since long before you guys showed up. You want to market this program? Promote Christianity and tell us how many people you have converted to Christianity through profits of the industry. If the industry is not supporting all the growers, then it is time for fewer growers.
Don't like that idea? Get out of the business.

The response is that it will be delayed, not canceled. So we'll be seeing another way for you and the USDA to sneak in this program at a later time.

Anonymous said...

Want your industry ruined? Go ahead and get the federal government involved. Look at other great programs:
over priced education;
FEMA that doesn't work;
housing industry in disaster;
same for the financial industry;
health care out of control;
unfunded social security and medicare;
and many more...