Proposed Christmas tree fee postponed - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Proposed Christmas tree fee postponed

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A proposed Christmas tree fee has been wrapped up, and put back on the shelf, at least for now. 

Local retailers worry this so called tax could be re-gifted next year, forcing them to pass the expense on to customers.

Customers at Linda's Produce on Highway 58, are filling up on peppers and peanuts. But in less than two weeks an empty lot will smell of pine.

"Walk through them, smell them, the smell, you know, you get the whole deal when you come to a tree lot like ours," says Mark Ramey, owner of Linda's Produce.

Ramey pre-ordered 300 fresh cut Christmas trees from a farm in North Carolina, but he learned today those trees could go up in price.

"It's 15 cents a tree, that's not that big of a deal, you do 300 trees, that's $45, its got to come from somewhere," says Ramey.

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Tuesday, plans to charge 15 cents per fresh cut tree, to help fund a new federal program to market them, similar to the "got milk" add campaign.

"It's a Tax, if you're forced to pay it, it's a tax, you can call it whatever you want, but if you're forced to pay it, its a tax," says Ramey.

Ramey was relieved to hear the fee has been postponed.

But his supplier warns, if it is implemented, prices will go up. Ramey says his will too. 

While customers won't see a huge jump prices, Ramey says it's about principle and protecting what's home grown.

"Yeah, they don't really need to be in the Christmas tree business, they've got enough to worry about," he says.

A white house spokesperson says the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees. Instead, it's an industry group imposing a fee on itself to fund a promotional campaign. 

The USDA has delayed implementing the fee, and will revisit the action at a later date.

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