What is a Tree Farm?
A tree farm is a privately owned forest where trees are grown for the purpose of selling wood. Tree farms can also provide other benefits such as sustaining wildlife, the quality of water, and the scenery. The trees on these farms can offer a source for sustainable wood, meaning that the farm owner’s practices will help to preserve the forests so that future generations will be able to keep using them. Many times, a tree farm will have trees in different stages of development, allowing the owner to harvest from it year after year. Having an area where trees can be harvested annually can also cut down on deforestation all over the world.
Possibly the most popular type of tree farm is a Christmas tree farm. Some of these farms allow visitors to come onto the property, choose a tree, and either cut it down or have someone cut it for them. The farm may also have different type of activities to participate in, such as horse-drawn carriage rides. Christmas tree farms, however, are not the only type of tree farms that exists. Other farms can provide wood for paper, lumber, and other products made from wood.
It is beneficial for tree farm owners to take good care of their trees. Making sure their trees are healthy and strong as well as ensuring that there will be trees available for harvesting in the future will aid them in gaining and keeping customers for their crop. A tree farm can also help wildlife by giving them a place to live. Certification may also be available for tree farmers that grow and harvest trees in a sustainable manner. In order to get certification, a farmer will have to meet certain criteria as set up by the certification agency.
To become certified, a tree farm may need to have a certified third party come in and perform an audit to ensure that organization’s guidelines are being adhered to. A tree farmer in the United States can get certified through the America Tree Farm System (ATFS). In 2008, the ATFS was endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications (PEFC). The PEFC is one of the largest international certification organizations for sustainable tree harvesting in the world. Consumers can look for the PEFC’s certification to ensure that the wood they are buying has been harvested from a sustainable source.
In the United States a tree farm can be a great business to start because the government offers so many tax breaks for tree farm owners. A couple filing jointly can deduct about $10,000 a year for the expenses they have as a result of planting trees. Over the next eight years tree farmers can deduct even more of the planting costs.
There are many other tax breaks offered to tree farmers. This encourages more people to start farms, which in general are good for everyone. However, there is also a lot of paperwork to be filled out, and you need to make sure you understand all the guidelines, of which there are many, so you can get as many benefits and breaks as possible and hopefully make a profit in your business.
In the mountains where I ski and go for weekend getaways when I can, there are Christmas tree farms all over the place. Many of the more successful of the farms send threes all over the country, including to various government institutions in Washington, D.C.
As I understand the business from talking with the locals in the mountains, there is money to be made in Christmas tree sales, but a lot of work and planning needs to be done before a tree matures and can be sold. Many of the farms there have gone out of business and you can see the untended would-be Christmas trees growing on plots all around the area.
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