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Tax on Christmas trees on hold

Article Published: Nov. 17, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 17, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, it was announced last week by officials.

North Carolina is second in the nation for Christmas tree production, with 1,600 growers with an estimated 50 million Fraser fir Christmas trees growing on 25,000 acres, according to the N.C. Christmas Tree Association.

The per-tree fee of 15 cents was scheduled to go into effect this week, with the money going toward an independent board of business owners to develop promotional and research efforts for the entire Christmas tree industry.

The “checkoff” program was requested by the industry in 2009 and went through two comment periods, which gathered a majority of positive responses, according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

The program was to mimic 18 similar programs that boost sales of agricultural commodities, such as the “Got Milk?” campaign and, “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.”

A post attacking the program was posted on The Foundry, a conservative news blog from The Heritage Foundation.

The story exploded, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided this week to delay implementation and revisit the proposed fee.

White House officials said that the tax idea would be put on hold.

The program would have levied the tax on “all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year.”

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