The Agriculture Department is considering a proposed Christmas tree promotion program that would raise $2 million a year for a nationwide advertising campaign to combat the increasingly competitive artificial Christmas tree industry. Growers and importers would fund the new check-off program.
Oconto, Wis., Christmas tree farmer Vander Velden supports the program as a way for growers to pool their advertising dollars for the benefit of the entire industry.
Artificial tree sales nearly doubled to 17.4 million from 2003 to 2007, according to the USDA, while fresh-tree sales have declined overall from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007.
The ad campaign would be similar to the 18 promotion orders already overseen by USDA and funded by industry assessments.
The program would charge producers and importers 15 cents for every fresh-cut tree.
A Christmas Tree Promotion Board, appointed by the secretary of agriculture, would administer the program.