NCTA NEWS – February 2018

February 2018 – The Latest News and Information from the National Christmas Tree Association

A Letter from the NCTA President, Paul Schroeder

Paul Schroeder

Industry Friends –

We, as an industry have just come off a robust sales year. We now look forward to the next planting, growing, and selling season. Sometime in the next few months we will be asked to vote on the referendum to continue funding the Christmas Tree Promotion Board.

We have seen the progress that the promotion board has made in just two short years. This is the first time that a continuous, professional effort has been made to promote the real farm grown Christmas tree. For 15 cents a tree we have taken a positive message to millions of consumers, primarily through social media. And we have seen the results in an improved market place. We must continue to support this effort to strengthen our industry.

You may have seen or heard some negative comments about our promotional efforts. Please take these with a grain of salt. We know you can’t please all the people all the time. But we are in the Christmas tree industry, we love the Christmas tree industry and we must support the Christmas tree industry.

In August the Board of Directors of the National Christmas Tree Association voted unanimously to support the referendum. Therefore, I encourage you to please vote for the upcoming referendum, support the referendum, and spread the word about the positive messaging that has been created from the 15-cent assessment. In my personal world I could do nothing for 15 cents a tree, but together we can push the pendulum in the other direction and increase demand for real Christmas trees.

Paul Schroeder
President, NCTA

Interested in learning more about how to support the “Yes” vote for the CTPB Referendum? Please email:

Have you watched out 2017 Campaign Video Yet? Click Here or below to Watch Now!

Its Christmas Keep It Real

CTPB Research Update

The Christmas Tree Promotion Board provides a steady stream of research funds for Christmas tree related projects around the country. Research funds are allocated on a year to year basis to projects that strive to improve the Christmas tree industry both in the long and short term. These projects are national or regional in scope and include one or multiple tree species.The first research project that is being funded by the Christmas Tree Promotion Board is a continuation of the CoFirGE (Cooperative Fir Germplasm Evaluation project). – Turkish, Trojan Fir (2 year – $80,000 total funding). This is a national project that is long term in nature.

European fir species are emerging nationally as new and popular alternatives to traditional regional species due to their disease and insect resistance, acceptance in the marketplace and growth habits. The CoFirGE project is one of the most extensive research initiatives ever to be done in the US with a Christmas tree species – over 30,000 trees are being evaluated on sites in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Washington and Denmark. Each of the replicated plantings includes progeny from 60 Turkish fir (3 provenances) and 40 Trojan fir (2 provenances) trees and seedlings from proven Christmas tree sources of Balsam, Fraser, Grand, Korean, Noble, Nordmann (3 provenances and 2 Danish seed orchards) and White fir.

Over the life of study, numerous traits are being evaluated such as: growth rate, growth habit, bud development/terminal bud abortion/ bud break timing, needle retention, and tree quality/grade/potential profitability. The goal of this project is to collect scion material from superior Christmas tree families and to establish grafted clonal seed orchards in different regions of the country. Seed from these orchards will provide farmers with an additional species that will grow with reduced inputs, on sites unsuitable for traditional Christmas tree species, which can be offered to our customers at a premium.

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Labor, Trucking Are Center Stage

By Craig Regelbrugge

Hello folks! The bulk of this article will cover the status of the trucking regulation changes (be glad if you are not a spring shipper, as you will have more time for things to settle out!)

But first, a quick labor reform update. As you know, the Senate failed to do a DACA fix. And now, a decision by the Supreme Court not to take up a DACA-related challenge now, but to let it wend its way through the lower courts, has taken much of the pressure off of Congress.

Still, Rep. Bob Goodlatte keeps pushing his vast enforcement bill, H.R.4760, but at least as of now, it lacks the votes to be brought to the floor. The bill does include an agricultural component that has some attractive features but also some deep (some would say fatal) flaws that Mr. Goodlatte has not been willing to address. We’ll know in the next few weeks whether anything moves.

Meanwhile, we’re putting our money on expected Trump Administration efforts to seek to improve the functioning of the H-2A program as the place where progress is most likely anytime soon.

On to trucking. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) public comment period regarding the transportation of agricultural commodities associated with the new hours of service rules/electronic logging device (ELD) mandate ended on February 20. AmericanHort submitted official comments advocating for nursery, greenhouse, and Christmas tree farmers back in January.

FMCSA had issued a request for public comment and notice of proposed regulatory guidance late last year, as it was looking to clarify and have consistent understanding of the applicability of the agricultural exemption.

AmericanHort, like many other industry groups at the moment, is advocating for an inclusive definition that specifically includes all of our stakeholders engaged in plant crop production. We have also sought intervention by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Discussions between USDA and the Department of Transportation are ongoing, as a better, more inclusive definition is sought.

In related news that might help the current situation, the new administrator for FMCSA, Raymond Martinez, was finally confirmed by voice vote in the Senate on February 13. Martinez was previously chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and stated in his confirmation hearing that the ELD mandate will proceed but was willing to listen to concerns by groups affected by the mandate. With FMCSA now having a confirmed administrator in place, it will hopefully expedite guidance on the agricultural exemption, as well as guidance and flexibility for the overarching ELD mandate.

Be aware that that the end of the “soft period” of enforcement currently ends on April 1. The states have either delayed writing tickets for the ELD altogether until April 1, or are leaving ticket writing to the discretion of individual officers. Where does your state currently stand? Check the map provided by Overdrive: Click Here

Have Your Renewed Your NCTA Membership?

It’s time to renew your NCTA membership for 2018! To open a 2018 membership form: Click this link
For a complete list of NCTA Board members and contact information, please click here.

National Christmas Tree Association |
P.O. Box 3609, Littleton, CO, 80161