"I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What's being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the 'Got Milk?' campaign," he said. "That said, USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action."
The new program was set to go into effect Wednesday. According to the Agriculture Department announcement, the government would have imposed a 15-cent-per-tree charge on "producers and importers" of fresh Christmas trees, provided they sell or import more than 500 trees a year.
The program and fee were supported by some in the Christmas tree industry. The money was not meant to pay down the debt or fund any other program, but designed to go back into the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board.
The board, proposed earlier this year, is the culmination of a years-long effort by the fresh Christmas tree industry to promote itself, according to background information provided in the Federal Register. The industry has faced increasing competition from producers of artificial trees, but efforts to collect voluntary contributions for a fresh-tree marketing campaign have repeatedly run out of funding. So the government stepped in to mandate a fee to support the promotion board.
Read more: White House Sidelines Christmas Tree 'Tax' | Fox News