Questions a task force will need to consider:
1. What would a Real Christmas Tree checkoff program look like?
2. What are the implications of a nationwide checkoff on the industry? What happens to NCTA if there is a nationwide checkoff? What happens to the state/regional associations?
3. Who is the voice of the industry – NCTA or the Checkoff Board? Are there certain programs that NCTA wants to continue to control and fund... such as the White House Christmas Tree, the Web site... the Real Trees for Kids Curriculum?
4. What process would / should NCTA use to determine whether it wants to advocate a checkoff? How does it communicate with non-members?
5. The Board: The Act requires that the Secretary of Agriculture appoint a "checkoff board" to provide oversight of the nationwide checkoff program.
a. What do we call it?
• United Christmas Tree Council
• Real Tree Promotion Council
• Christmas Tree Board
• Christmas Tree Marketing Board
b. Number of Board members:
• Other groups have boards ranging from 12 to 65
• Keeping the board small (between 12 and 15 members) might allow them to act more efficiently and economically
• Structure: Directors could be nominated by region or at-large. If importers were included in the assessment, they would have a seat on the board. I nominating by state, and want to "avoid" a "big board," would need to determine which "smaller" states would be combined to form "regions")
• Consider 4 or 5 regions ... number of directors in each region weighted based on production
c. Nomination process? (Required to nominate two persons for each board seat)
• U.S.: Regional caucuses to nominate directors?
• Importers: caucus to nominate directors?
• Promotion: are funds limited to promotion and marketing programs?
• Or, does the program also permit funding of "production research?"
• Like most other checkoff programs, should it include a requirement for at least annual "producer communication"?
• Does it include option for a state or region to "apply" for funding for state or regional promotion or research? Is there a "designated amount" for such funding?
a. Specify how funds can be used (see above) promotion only? Promotion and research?
b. Amount of the assessment:
• determine how much money is needed to be successful for next 10 years
** Promotion fund should be $1.5 to $2.5 million
** If production research included, how much needed for research? $250,000? $500,000?
** If this means a fund of $2.25 to $3 million, that translates to 5 to 6 cents per tree
** Does a portion of the assessment go back to the states?
- If so, how much?
- How does that impact the amount available for national programs?
- Would it automatically go to the states, or would they need to apply?
- Would the states have to create separate boards to receive / handle the funds, or could the state associations use it?
- How do we involve the states in the planning and information sharing process?
Should the assessment be a percentage of revenue (as reported on capital gains form) instead of on a per tree basis?
Could it be collected on acreage?
Need to determine at what point it costs more to collect the money than is being received and consider exempting producers below that level
** Could ask the smaller producers to contribute to NCTA’s voluntary program to support core programs, lobbying and advocacy.
• Assume some "slippage" in funds not collected
• Calculate the volume and establish a rate that could raise the estimated amount needed
b. Where collected?
• Other industries collect from the first-handler. Need to determine that point
Beef collects every time an animal changes hands... does the program include wholesalers and brokers? If assessment is 1 time per tree, isn’t the assessment still paid the first time the trees change hands?
Could seedlings be the first handler point?
c. Collected on imports?
• at the border?
d. Include wreaths and greens?
How to assess/collect?
• Delayed or Up front:
** Most have found a delayed referendum offers best chance for success... allows you to identify the people not currently in associations... those who pay in get to vote...
• Requirements for passage (majority of voters; or majority of voters and % of production)
** Most are using majority of producers voting
9. Several commodities of similar size (value, production, sales) have nationwide checkoffs. These include blueberries; potatoes; honey; watermelon; mushrooms; hazelnuts.
Some of their paperwork is public record.
Invite some people from these organizations to come talk to us.
10. How much seed money is needed to get a program started? Where does it come from?