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Checkoff program relatively new to Christmas tree industry

Checkoff program relatively new to Christmas tree industry
National Promotion Board administers funds raised by 15-cent-per-tree assessment on growers who harvest more than 500 trees per year.

It's relatively new to the Christmas tree industry, but there is now a checkoff and a National Promotion Board.

The sales season of 2015 was the first time that a checkoff assessment was in effect — 15 cents per tree cut for growers who harvest more than 500 trees in a season. It is also assessed to importers who bring in more than 500 trees per year. In the U.S., the assessment is to the farm that cuts the tree, not a retail organization that sells trees.

The money, as is the norm with other checkoff programs, goes to marketing, research and promotion of the industry.

CHECKOFF IS NEW: Beginning with the sales season of 2015, Christmas tree growers pay a fee of 15 cents per tree after 500 tree sales to fund research and promotion.

The checkoff is a feature of the National Christmas Tree Association. Kansas has its own state organization that is affiliated with the national program.

Celia Goering, who owns Pine Lake Farm at Derby with her husband, Glen, is the 2016-2017 president of the Kansas association.

"Glen was on the board for several years," she says. "At the end of his service, I joined the board and this year became president."

Glen says that tends to happen to his wife.

"Just about everything she joins, she ends up president," he says. "It's been a lifelong thing."

Celia admits that seems to happen. This year, she is also president of the South Central Kansas Music Teachers Association, where as a private piano teacher, she has been a member for decades.

The Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association has almost 40 members this year, most of them in close proximity to either Wichita or the Kansas City area.

The Kansas association has two meetings a year, one in the summer and one in the winter. The organization offers help to prospective growers who are trying to get a start in the industry and help for growers facing challenges that go with agriculture, including drought, disease and insect pressure.

Through its affiliation with the national organization, the KCTGA allows its members to have access to national education programs and to the benefits of the checkoff program.

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