Thu, 24 Nov 2011

Agricultural Marketing Fees: Not Just for Christmas Trees

There has been much brouhaha in the media over the so-called "Christmas tree tax". I'm glad to see it recognized as a tax, because that's exactly it is, even though it's technically a fee collected by USDA that goes to the Christmas tree growers trade association.

But where's the outrage over all of the other "agricultural marketing fees"? I've had to pay $1 per head when I sold my pasture raised beef cattle to support a beef industry association that is doing it's level best to convince the public there's no difference between pasture raised and feedlot beef! In short, I'm forced to fund advertising for my competitors! Mercifully, I'm exempt on the egg checkoff because I don't have enough hens, and I always make sure I sell lambs in lots of four or less to exempt myself there. But I'd be taxed on those, too, again to essentially support advertising my my larger competitors.

Follow the link for a more or less complete listing of current checkoff programs (and their fees). If we really want a free market, we need to end all of these.

The fees, which were supported by an industry group called the Christmas Tree Check-off Task Force, were earmarked for industry marketing efforts. USDA’s role was to make sure that all growers helped pay for those efforts, whether they supported them or not. Those growers, at least for now, have been given a reprieve. But the ill-starred Christmas tree tax was far from the only such mandatory marketing levy on agricultural products from popcorn and blueberries to mangos.

(link) [Heritage Foundation]

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