The president of the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers Association says he’s frustrated a new fee to help promote his industry has been sidelined.

Republicans in congress called the 15-cent-per-tree charge President Obama’s “tax on Christmas.” Bob Moulds, a tree farmer near Fairbank, Iowa, is president of the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers.

“I couldn’t believe that this became political,” Moulds says. “This was the wish of the growers themselves, and it’s not what we consider a tax at all.”

Moulds, who is president of the Iowa Christmas Tree Growers, says the fee was proposed for trees from farms that sell more than 500 trees a year — and it would have applied to sales at just six of the more than 80 Christmas tree farms in Iowa.

One Republican congressman called the 15-cent-per-tree charge “Grinch”-like. Christmas tree growers like Moulds say the popularity of artificial trees has hurt their industry and they proposed the fee to create a fund that would market the sale of “real” Christmas trees, similar to the dairy industry’s “Got Milk?” campaign. Moulds says his industry has been seeking a steady source of funding for an ad campaign for years. 

“There’s going to be effectively no more cost to the customer because growers have, by and large, been contributing, but it’s been on more of an ad hoc basis,” Moulds says. “It’s just a normal thing that we were considering and we were just grateful that the USDA had agreed to do this for us.” 

The new fee to create a “Christmas Tree Promotion Board” was set to go into effect this past Wednesday, but the Obama Administration announced it would be delayed after Republicans criticized it.  Similar fees are collected from the sale of milk, eggs, beef and pork to finance advertising and other activities which promote the sale of those products.