The Crony Christmas Tree

One item that was part of the (thankfully) deceased farm bill that got little attention was a levy on live Christmas trees.

Apparently, live Christmas tree producers are upset at competition from artificial trees.  And there is nothing to which Congress is more sympathetic than using government coercion to help industry incumbents fight off new competition.

Readers may or may not know that the government often steps into certain agricultural commodities and, at the behest of the largest producers, creates mandatory advertising regimes.  In these regimes, a tax is levied on everyone's product and the money is used to fund advertising campaigns (e.g like the ones for milk and beef).

The most recent farm bill was to create a similar regime for live Christmas trees, requiring all tree producers to pay the per-tree tax whether they wanted or needed the advertising campaign or not.  So, for now, we have escaped holiday government-funded ads like "Pining for Christmas" and "Live Trees:  They are What's Fir Christmas."

The egg industry was silent on whether they would consider a similar step to battle plastic Easter eggs.

  • obloodyhell

    How is paying a tax on being in the live Xmas tree business (thus passing the cost onto consumers for trees that everyone already thinks are overpriced, hence the interest in real-looking faux trees) supposed to help Xmas tree sales no matter how much advertising it buys?

    Or is this tax somehow supposed to be applied to fauxtree sellers "as well"?

    "Sitting back to watch the fir fly..." :-D

  • Anon

    Good point. There is almost certainly no tax on the artificial trees.

    It is called a "check-off" in the commodities: corn, beef, soybean, milk, eggs, beef, etc. It is paid as a percentage of the price of the commodity and it funds, in addition to promotion (advertising), research on the crop or commodity. So a tax is assessed on the commodity in order to promote the commodity and fund research on production, etc. This type of program has funded the "Beef, it's what's for dinner" campaign

  • Theo P. Neustic

    They tried that on my industry, commercial fishing, a few years back. Basically all it did was provide jobs for a few otherwise unemployable paper pushers. Thankfully there was so much resistance that the idea was abandoned after a few years of absolute failure.

  • Jill