'Walking Around the Christmas Tree' May Cost More

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The Agriculture Department on Tuesday gave its approval for a 15-cent fee on fresh Christmas trees.

Growers say the new fee is not a federal tax but an self-imposed fee by the industry that will be used to support a new program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

"As demographics and buying habits have changed, we have watched the market for real trees shrink drastically, requiring us to spend much more time and money on promotion," Don Cameron, past president of the California Christmas Tree Association told the Chicago Tribune.

The ads and promotions are likely to begin next year to offset the steady decline in tree sales.

The Heritage Foundation reports that the new charge applies to anyone who sells more than 500 trees per year. They note that the sellers are free to pass along the fee to consumers.

After three years, growers and importers will vote on whether to keep the program.

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