Monday, March 23, 2009

Christmas Tree Checkoff Moving Forward

The Checkoff Study Task Force, after studying the industry and various checkoff programs for the last year, recommends asking USDA to consider a Checkoff program for the Christmas Tree industry that would include:
* Forming a new, independent Christmas Tree Promotion Board to direct the program, with board members being selected from multiple regions in proportion to the amount of production in each region.
* An assessment rate of 15 cents per harvested tree
* Exempting producers who harvest fewer than 500 trees per year
* Assessing imported trees, but also exempting those that import less than 500 trees
* Holding a referendum after three years to determine the continuation of the program, in which each producer subject to and complying with the assessment will be entitled to vote
* Subsequent referendums be held at least once every five years
* Allowing producers to request a refund of assessments collected prior to the first referendum.

After hearing feedback from members and many of the state and regional associations, NCTA's Board of Directors, during a conference call held March 10, voted to support a proposed Checkoff program as outlined.

The Checkoff Task Force will pursue working out remaining details with an attorney and USDA and continue to communicate with NCTA and state/regional associations. The recommendations of the task force are not final, and modifications may be required as the process unfolds. At some point, USDA will publish a proposed rule, followed by a 30 to 60 day comment period, during which all associations and individuals will be encouraged to send comments to USDA. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

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