Bending to a flash-in-the-pan controversy over a misunderstood 15-cent fee on Christmas tree sales that would allow farmers to run ads promoting natural trees, the Obama administration formally delayed a proposal for a so-called “Christmas tree tax.”
The proposal was stayed indefinitely in a notice published in the Federal Register on Thursday.
“While we are confident that the Christmas Tree program is compliant with all applicable law and supported by the domestic Christmas tree industry, the program will be stayed to provide additional time for the Department to reach out to the Christmas Tree industry and the public to explain how a research and promotion program is a producer driven program to support American farmers,” the administration said in a notice in the Federal Register.
Christmas tree farmers are pretty upset that the administration caved so quickly, according to a release from the National Christmas Tree Association.
“It’s just so disappointing to have something like this happen because of an internet rumor,” Oregon tree farmer Betty Malone, who was involved in submitting the proposal to the USDA, said in a statement.
“Farmers know dirt. We know how to grow things. But in this changing world, it is not enough to grow a great product. We want our businesses to be successful and we have to let people know about our product. That takes time, coordination and money,” Malone said. ”Here we were, a group of farmers trying to pool our own money together to sell more of our crop, and now we’re not allowed to because someone decided to call it a tax, when it’s not.”