Xmas tree growers rejoice at passing of Farm Bill, with check-off progam… – The Kalamazoo Gazette

ALLEGAN, MI– When President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill at Michigan State University Friday, Feb. seven, it contained some good news for Michigan Christmas tree growers.

Over 400 trees donated in annual Trees for Troops event Active military members, retirees, and volunteers came out to Wahmhoff Trees Baby room in Gobles to help donate Xmas trees as part of Trees for Troops, a nationwide program that provides trees to U. S. bases across the country.

The questionable check-off program to fund research and promotion of trees was contained in the deal; an amendment directs the USDA to implement the program inside 60 days of the enactment of the Plantation Bill.

“We’re happy, we are very happy, ” said Josh Peterson, president of the Michigan Xmas Tree Association. “It has been a lengthy, strange journey to get to this point. ”

For almost seven years — about as long as it takes a Xmas tree to be ready for harvest — the Christmas tree industry continues to be working on creating a national research and promotion program.
“After a thorough review and two general public comment periods, a program was accepted and published in the Federal Sign up on November 8, 2011, ” according to a news release from the Nationwide Christmas Tree Association.

Even though the program, which allows growers to gather and pool money from people, is already used by many agricultural commodities to improve their products and strengthen their industries, the Christmas tree hard work was tagged by a few conservative columnists.

Outcry ensured, and the program has been “stayed indefinitely” since Nov. 17, 2011.

With President Obama’s signing the Farm Bill on Friday, Christmas tree producers should expect to learn more about the future of their check off in the next six to eight weeks.

The Christmas of 2014 harvest will be the first affected by the check-off, Peterson said,  collecting 15 cents per tree on farms that cut 500 or more per year. Those who cut fewer are invited to participate if they wish, Peterson said.

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