AmericanFarm.com

NCTA looks at industry challenges

By JANE W. GRAHAM

The National Christmas Tree Growers Association, during its recent convention in California, recognized champions, focused on renewing its protection of the industry and learned that it needs to increase membership to help the industry grow.
North Carolina walked away with the top tree awards in the annual Christmas Tree competition.  The winners of the National Christmas Tree Championship are Russell and Beau Estes of Peak Farms, Jefferson, N.C., with a blue spruce.  The reserve champion is Paul Smith of Cool Springs Nursery, Banner Elk, N.C., with a Fraser fir. The North Carolina Christmas Tree Association won the Gallery of Trees Decorating Contest.
Executive director DeLaine Bender outlined the challenges facing the organization in the industry and in the association that supports it in a report on the group’s convention held Aug. 8 through 11 in Sacramento, Calif.
“NCTA has a renewed focus on protection of the industry,” Bender wrote in the report.  “So, naturally, this year’s NCTA Convention & Trade Show was focused on that change – and how the industry can thrive in today’s rapidly evolving business, economic and political environment.”
During the meeting, Bender reported, the group discussed its decreasing membership numbers and the need to build the organization.
“It’s unfortunate that NCTA is faced with funding shortfalls that threaten our ability to provide a strong, united voice for the industry,” Bender continued. “Sluggish membership renewals and disappointing convention registration and exhibitor/sponsor support will limit NCTA’s activities. Now more than ever, the farm-grown Christmas tree industry needs NCTA as a national voice and advocate. Given the challenges we face, this is a time to rally together.”
Bender said, “We spent a lot of time at the convention discussing the progress NCTA has made on protection issues, the challenges we face as an industry and as an association, and the successes we conceived rules.”
Keynote speaker, Jack McCall, brought it all together, helping apply life lessons to the “Challenge of Change,” with a humorous and uplifting presentation.
The new NCTA website was unveiled, including features that will provide NCTA members with easy access to resources that will help protect their businesses, whether it is dealing with misinformation in the media or preparing for a Form I-9 compliance audit.
A meeting of state association leaders attending the convention focused on ways NCTA could be more helpful to the state associations. Great ideas – from sharing program suggestions to methods for association leaders to communicate – were the result.
To help support NCTA’s work, during the convention, NCTA’s leadership announced the creation of a Protection and Advocacy Fund. The fund is meant to support current and ongoing programs, operations, outreach and education to advocate for and protect the farm-grown Christmas tree industry. NCTA’s Board of Directors pledged to each contribute at least $200 to the fund, and challenged convention attendees to each give $100. More than $10,000 was raised onsite to help ensure NCTA will be a strong voice for now and into the future.
To join NCTA or make a contribution to the Protection and Advocacy Fund, call (636) 449-5070 or visit NCTA’s website – www.christmastree.org.