12/12/2011 08:21:00 AMTom Karst
Contrary to what you are being told by the "Christmas Tree Industry" some of us growers will be forced by our federal government to pay to fund generic promotions of Christmas Trees against our better judgments. Fines and penalties for nonpayment of the Christmas Tree Tax are a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000 per violation. Each day constitutes a new violation. What the "Christmas Tree Industry" is not telling you is that the only help from the Federal Government that they truly want in developing a Promotional message for our industry is just what I listed above and that is the force of government to get growers to pay into their program. I guess I am just a little old fashioned because I still believe that if an industry group would like for me to pay into an advertising campaign, then they should sell me on that campaign instead of using the force of government to make me pay into it. I guess the Country we live in today is much different than it used to be. I can only hope that one of these days soon, enough people will wise up when the government says they are here to help, and freedom loving people will just say No Thank You because we have seen where that has gotten us. One size fits all government programs benefit one group to the detriment of another group and from what I have seen of these programs, I unfortunately will be one of the latter.
It's no surprise that the media didn't accurately portray the situation, but that doesn't change the fact that the federal government was going to force growers to promote their product. Just because the majority of that industry wanted to doesn't make it right. Majority consensus does not establish the morality of an action. Despite the industry's claim to be Republican-voting Limbaugh fans, the fact is they wanted to use government power to force dissenting growers to pay for advertising. With such a "wacky liberal agenda," political attacks are not baseless. Should the Association of Industry Trade Journals (if there is such a thing) be allowed to force The Packer to fund a "buy trade journals" campaign? Compelling people to pay for promotion is clearly an abuse of government power. Advertising should be voluntary. Christmas tree growers should proceed on a voluntary basis and not petition the federal government to force anyone to pay for it.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. But doesn't the fact that the promotion program could be ended by referendum give everyone a voice? Doesn't the fact that an assessment would be applied equally to all (with the exception of smaller producers and handlers) appeal to your sense of fair play? Can you expect the industry to effectively collect voluntary contributions for promotions to stave off artificial trees from China? Doesn't your industry need to create demand? Tom Karst
Mr. Karst in response to your reply to Mr. Gerawan: Based on the USDA comment period it is said that a majority of growers are in favor of the program. The problem with their claim to a majority is that nothing was done to ensure that only growers who would be required by law to contribute to this program were the ones who commented in favor of the program. I actually had a grower who would be exempted by the 500 tree exemption tell me "Why wouldn't I be in favor of this program when I get to use everybody else's money to promote Christmas Trees." Did he comment in favor of this program to the USDA and is his comment included in the count to determine majority? Also doesn't exempting 75% (9,155 of the 12,255 farms exempted) of growers who most likely would not be in favor of these programs if they were required by law to contribute reek of a form of "gerrymandering". How is it "fair" to tax a grower who sells 520 trees for $11 a tree and not to tax a grower who sells 480 trees for $30 a tree, which based on the types of Christmas Trees that can be grown in a certain region is a very real possibility. Seems to fly in the face of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which states that "...all Duties, Imposts, and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States." Continued