BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Plant officials at the local Scotts Miracle-Gro facility in Fort Madison gave U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack an education into the world of weed control.
Loebsack toured the facility’s labeling and bottling areas as well as chemical mixing stations, labs, and storage areas with department heads in the afternoon and then talked briefly with the media following the tour.
He said he enjoyed the tour because he frankly didn’t know a lot about the facility, but was impressed by the workforce, the American made products and the company’s efforts for organic products.
Leslie Malinski, the plant’s Director of Liquid Operations, gave Loebsack a slide presentation that outlined the company’s commitment to its customers, communities and workforce.
“This is an important plant in the area,” Loebsack said. “They employ a lot of people and I’ve never been here before. I enjoy the learning process as I was a teacher for more than 20 years and I even enjoy it more now as a congressman,” he said.
“I learned a lot about the workforce. They do a really great job of recruiting here. And although they have lot of seasonal employees that get called back the next year, they also have a lot of full time employees and retention is pretty high.”
Malinski told Loebsack the plant filled more than 62 million bottles in 2015 and spent about $3.5 million in capital outlay in 2016. She also explained that the Fort Madison plant supplies most of the products for the northern half of the United States and into Canada.
Loebsack said he likes to get out and visit area businesses and industries that focus on American products, and it’s efforts like Scott’s that America needs to be looking at going forward.
“I always try to go somewhere where the focus is on making things in America and we need to do more,” Loebsack said. “I think the American people are demanding that, and I think that’s what happened in the last election. People are tired of all the competition from abroad and companies going abroad and they wanted a change.”
With the political climate as it is, Loebsack said efforts need to focus on growing jobs in America and things like the Border Adjustment Tax, which would tax products coming into America at almost 20%, could be detrimental to the economy and American jobs.
“Whatever tax policy changes we adopt, we have to make sure it creates jobs. We’ve been hearing a lot from the Republican’s Border Adoption Tax, that’s basically a 20 percent tax on anything imported. There’s other things we can do. I think we need to change laws to remove incentives from taking companies overseas. But I have a hard time increasing the costs of goods for Americans and that’s what would happen if we tax those products coming in,” he said.
“I hope we can get past the three tweets a day and start focusing on helping people.”