Christmas tree grower weighs in on so-called tree tax

It's almost time to start shopping for your Christmas tree. Local tree growers hope more people this year will buy a real tree, instead of one that's artificial.

One Horry County tree-growing family is out to explode some myths about natural trees, including the one about the Christmas tree tax.

Lauren Booth said she is in the Christmas spirit year-round. Her family has operated Booth's Christmas Tree Farm for three generations and there are some things she wants people to know about the business.

For one thing, she said, natural trees aren't necessarily more of a fire hazard than artificial trees, as long as they're properly cared for.

"The key to keeping a real Christmas tree alive is to make sure that it's put into water immediately after cutting," Booth said.

Booth also wants to weigh in on what's been called President Barack Obama's Christmas tree tax.

Booth said it wouldn't really be a tax, but a fee of 15 cents per tree sold. And it won't be paid by consumers, but by the Christmas tree growers themselves, most of whom, including Booth, are in favor of it.

The money will mostly be used for marketing.

"It's basically to just help promote that there are Christmas tree farms that a family can go out and make a tradition of cutting a Christmas tree," Booth said.

The White House has decided to delay the promotional fee program until some time after Christmas.

Growers like Booth point out that consumers who buy an artificial tree are supporting large manufacturers whose workers may be in China, but buyers of real trees are supporting small family businesses.

"You're keeping your money in your community, supporting your local farmers, just as anybody would do at a local produce market."

Booth thinks this could be a good year for her family's tree farm.

"We've had a lot of interest already, a lot of calls, a lot of people coming out and tagging their trees, getting ready."

And there's still six more weeks until Christmas.