In today's edition, Rep. Michael McCaul (R.-TX) has introduced the Christmas Tree Tax Exclusion Act, which would allow certain Christmas tree producers to opt out of the Christmas Tree Promotion and Research Program, a USDA initiative that compels growers to support industry advertising whether they want to or not.
Here's the full text of a statement released by the congressman's office:
[On Dec. 14] Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the "Christmas Tree Tax Exclusion Act" which would allow "choose-and-cut" Christmas tree producers, like the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm in Texas' 10th congressional district, the choice to opt out of the Christmas Tree Promotion and Research Program, a USDA administered commodity checkoff program that forces choose-and-cut growers to pay for a promotional campaign for the entire Christmas tree industry.
McCaul: "While I understand the importance of these checkoff programs to certain industries," said Representative McCaul, "the choose-and-cut Christmas tree industry is a niche market that does not fit the mold of other commodities and therefore does not benefit from this promotional program. Instead this industry thrives off the local culture surrounding it, allowing for local customers to pick and cut their own Christmas tree and rewarding them with the unique experience of doing so. By federally mandating that choose-and-cut businesses take part in this national promotional program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forcing the entire industry to pay for an advertising campaign that primarily benefits large, national Christmas tree producers selling to the wholesale market, not small tree farms like the Elgin CHRISTmas Tree Farm in my district."
The Christmas Tree Tax Exclusion Act would continue to allow USDA to proceed with the check-off program, but would restrict the Federal government from forcing small businesses to take part and afford them the option to opt out if they so choose.
The Christmas tree tax was first proposed in November 2010, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a regulation establishing a program for large-size Christmas tree producers to tax consumers for the purpose of marketing their trees. The Administration suspended the implementation of the regulation after a public backlash, only to see the regulation quietly revived in the 2014 Farm Bill. Last year an amendment offered in the House of Representatives by Representative Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and supported by Representative McCaul, would have blocked the tax from going into effect, but it was narrowly defeated. No similar vote was taken in the Senate.
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