NCTA Position Statement on New Christmas Tree Checkoff Program
The National Christmas Tree Association is pleased that the USDA has announced a final rule on the creation of a Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order, commonly known as a “Checkoff.”
This program was requested by the industry in 2009 and has gone through two industrywide comment periods during which 565 comments were submitted from interested parties. More than 70% of the growers posting comments, and nearly 90% of the state and multi-state associations that posted comments indicated that they were in favor of the program. A group of Christmas Tree farmers and retailers spent nearly three years studying the potential positives and negatives of a checkoff promotion and research program, including looking at other commodities that have similar programs.
The program is designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers at a rate of 15 cents per tree sold. The program will be administered by an independent 12-member board of small business owners who grow and sell farm-grown Christmas trees and they will be responsible for developing and approving promotional and research efforts to benefit the entire industry. The program is not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree. The funds collected after this season will be used to develop promotion and research programs for the 2012 season.
This program was developed under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. There are at least 18 other similar programs already in effect for various agricultural commodities. Although smaller in scope, the Christmas tree program will be similar to recognizable programs for milk, cotton and beef that have brought consumers commodity-oriented messages such as “Got Milk?” and “Beef, It’s what’s for dinner.”
About the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA)
NCTA is the professional organization representing nearly 5,000 farms and retailers engaged in growing and selling Real Christmas Trees to nearly 30 million consumers. Based in Chesterfield, Mo., NCTA's mission is to promote the use of Real Christmas Trees and support the industry that provides them. For more information:
636-449-5071 office (central time)
A Christmas tree promotion, research and information order would allow producers and importers the structure to self-assess real Christmas trees to fund research and promotion similar to dairy farmers or cattle ranchers.
The Christmas tree industry is a mature industry in need of mature promotion.
Tree producers and importers work hard now more than ever to practice responsible farming, select quality trees and offer extended services, but in the last 20 years the number of farm grown Christmas trees in households have fallen by 21% while the number of households in the US has increased by 27% (from census data and Gallup, Wirthlin & Harris polling services).
Real trees tell a positive story about local farms, environmental stewardship and cultural tradition. And they need the fair and sustainable structure such an order provides to compete against factory built, outsourced, plastic trees, which are dramatically increasing in market share and landfills.
Voluntary marketing efforts have had success in the Christmas tree industry; however the challenge has always been the ability to sustain funding. A program that provides fair, consistent funding for promoting farm grown Christmas trees is needed so that all producers and importers can benefit.