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“Beef: It’s what’s for dinner.”
“Pork. The Other White Meat.”
“The incredible, edible egg.”
These and other slogans have long been part of popular marketing efforts to promote agricultural products. Funded by USDA-sponsored checkoffs in which producers pay into a fund for promotion and research, they have helped keep dairy products, beef, pork and eggs top-of-mind for consumers.
The checkoffs — there are 21 of them for commodities ranging from honey to popcorn — help growers put their best foot forward. The advertising campaigns allow them to speak directly to consumers about their crops and commodities.
Time was, the marketplace wasn’t as crowded as it is today. Thousands of products, many of which didn’t even exist a few years ago, are filling the shelves of brick-and-mortar and online stores. Any single product or commodity can easily be crowded out of the marketplace. That’s why companies large and small rely on advertising and marketing to stand apart from the crowd.
No ag industry is under greater threat than Christmas tree growers. Fake trees have established a beach head in the marketplace, as more consumers are “going plastic” and buying Chinese-made artificial trees in a box. Or they are skipping the tradition altogether.
The challenges cannot be ignored.
That’s why we were surprised that a recent checkoff vote by Christmas tree growers was so close. Fifty-one percent of growers supported continuing the industry checkoff, while 49 percent opposed it.
If opponents have a problem with the current ad and marketing campaign they need to fix it, not abandon it and leave the industry defenseless.
With aggressive foreign competition chipping away at the market, U.S. tree growers have no choice but to tell their story and remind consumers of a classic and classy Christmas tradition. They need to talk about tradition, about family, and about memories that for many people represent the most precious time of the year.
No one is going to do it for them.
For 15 cents a tree, it’s a painless and effective way to give their crop a much-needed boost.