Christmas tree fee delayed by Dept. of Agriculture
WASHINGTON - A fee on Christmas trees that was scheduled to go into effect today has been delayed by the Obama administration, after backlash against the program from organizations who called it a tax.
The program would have charged some growers 15 cents per tree to pay for nationwide advertising that would promote the fresh-cut Christmas tree industry. The fee was requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009 and approved by the Department of Agriculture. It would have been levied against growers that sell 500 or more trees, which would have paid the fee in February.
Andrea Bennett, who owns a Christmas tree farm in Zachary, said, "Fifteen cents per tree is really not that much, but on the other hand I think the mood in the country is we get taxed, and taxed."
Yesterday, the conservative Heritage Foundation posted a story calling the program a "tax" on Christmas trees because it assumed the costs would be passed onto consumers.
Most people who traditionally buy a fresh-cut tree told News 2 they would be willing to pay a little extra.
"If it benefits the growers I'm all for it," Courtney Yoes said.
Today, White House spokesperson Matt Lehrich told ABC News that the Agriculture department delayed implementing the program and would revisit the issue.