GOBLES (WWJ/AP) – Some Michigan Christmas tree growers are unhappy with the federal government’s decision to stop a new 15-cent fee that would be used to promote the industry.

The industry had asked the U.S. Agriculture Department to create the promotion program. The plan would have allowed the USDA to collect 15 cents per tree from every tree grower who sold more than 500 trees. Money collected from growers through the tree fee would be similar to campaigns promoting milk, beef and eggs.

But, the Obama administration changed course after conservative critics claimed it was a tax on Christmas trees.

Tree grower Dan Wahmhoff in Gobles, west of Kalamazoo, was in favor of the program, which would have established a marketing budget to promote the benefits of real trees to consumers. Wahmhoff told the Kalamazoo Gazette that growers are losing sales to artificial trees made overseas.

Wahmhoff said some people believe cutting down a Christmas tree is similar to chopping a rain forest. But, he said real trees are an environmentally sound choice, that trees are a crop.

Wahmhoff hopes the program will be revived.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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