After years of political wrangling, Christmas tree growers finally have their own federally sanctioned promotion agency.
The farm bill that President Barack Obama signed last week authorizes the Christmas Tree Research and Promotion Board to impose a 15-cent fee on every tree the growers sell.
The fee was supposed to go into effect in 2011, but the Agriculture Department suspended it after conservative groups raised a ruckus about “Obama’s Christmas Tree Tax.”
The new farm bill ends the suspension and gives the Agriculture Department 60 days to implement the program.
The Chesterfield-based National Christmas Tree Association, which supported the fee, issued a statement this week saying that it “is designed to benefit the industry, especially small family farms.”
The group says that when it took a poll in 2010, 62 percent of its members liked the idea of a checkoff fee and only 17 percent were opposed.
The Christmas tree fee is similar to money collected for other agricultural commodities, including the “Got milk?” and “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” ads.
The Christmas tree association says the fee “is not expected to have any impact on consumer prices.”