HARROD — Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon toured the Amherst Greenhouse Wednesday in Harrod as their first stop in Ohio during their Back to the Earth Farm Tour in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.
Perdue and McMahon began their tour meeting owners Adin and Mary Horst’s family and employees. The greenhouse is a family owned and run business selling a wide assortment of flowers and vegetables to customers in Harrod, Lima, Wapakoneta and many different other places in multiple different counties.
At the end of the tour, Perdue asked Horst if there was anything the federal government could do to help small farms and businesses in the Allen County area to improve their business.
“When it comes to employment, it’s crazy. The employees only get about half the money made and the government gets the rest,” Amherst said.
Horst also voiced concerns over the the quantity and complexity mandatory regulations small businesses must follow. He said he would need a full time secretary to keep track of fertilizer application scheduling.
“They’re there for a reason, but like many things that come out of D.C., there are unintended consequences,” Perdue said. “Oftentimes they get misinterpreted and misapplied, and oftentimes we expect growing businesses to have the same staff as larger businesses.”
Both Perdue and McMahon agreed President Donald Trump knows small business is the backbone of the American economy. However, a group of family farmers has brought a lawsuit against Perdue and the Trump administration after the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration withdrewthe “Farmers Fair Practices Rule.” The rule was created to protect farmers from predatory practices by large agricultural businesses. After talking to individuals in agriculture, it was decided the rule would cost the consumer more money, so the rule was withdrawn, he said.
“Not every small business is going to survive in every industry,” Perdue said. “There are farmers there, some of which will not survive because other people do it better. That’s the American capitalistic society. The best producers thrive and provide, and the others find another industry where they can thrive.”
After the tour, Perdue and McMahon held a town hall meeting at the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center where they answered questions asked by Allen County, Putnam County and Auglaize County residents. After the town hall they signed memorandums of cooperation between their two agencies, vowing to work together to help agriculture and other small business owners.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.