Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proposed Christmas Tree Checkoff Published

A "Proposed Christmas Tree Promotion, Research and Information Order" was published in the Federal Register on November 8. Everyone in the industry is encouraged to submit comments. You may express overall support or opposition, as well as note specific parts of the program that you would like to see modified.

The main points of the published proposal are the same as the indusry has been discussing over the last couple of years.

- The initial assessment would be 15 cents per tree sold or imported into the U.S.
- Those that produce or import fewer than 500 trees per year could apply for and receive an exemption. In other words, the smaller producers would not have to participate, but they could if they wanted to.
- The funds would be directed by a board of 12 Chrsitmas tree producers, nominated by the industry.

The proposed program does differ from previous drafts in a few ways. USDA added legal references, organized some sections differently, changed the periodic referendum from every 5 years to every 7, and they changed the crop and fiscal year dates.

USDA is seeking public comment through February 7. The comment period will be open through February 7 in order to allow sufficient time for the industry to read and comment on the proposal once the harvest/sales season is over. However, the Office of Management & Budget is required to review the estimates of the time that the program would require from producers and importers on a shorter timeframe than is being allowed for comments on the overall program. Those that would like to comment on this aspect should do so by December 8. Additional comments on the entire program can be filed later during the comment period.

For more information and to read the proposed progran in its entirety, visit the government docket at: www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#docketDetail?R=AMS-FV-10-0008

Note: There are two proposed rules on the docket. Both are related, but refer to separate aspects of this order. Comments submitted under one of the proposed rules will be understood to be about the entirety of the order.

To make a comment, you can click on the proposed order then click "submit comment" on the right side of the screen or follow this link: www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480b8409c