Ag Loving the Lower Fuel Prices


by Randy Tucker, Staff Writer

An annoying part of filling up a car or truck a couple of years ago came when the gas pump stopped at $74, often well before your tank was full. Paying more than $4 dollars a gallon for gas or diesel took a toll on all consumers.

But imagine if your livelihood meant buying fuel not by the gallon but by the tanker truckload.
Modern agriculture has a nearly insatiable appetite for fuel, primarily diesel, and when fuel costs rise, production costs soar as well.

“Cheap fuel is not a bad thing for agriculture,” Dennis Horton, a farmer west of Shoshoni said. “If you want to continue to buy food at a reasonable price, you have to keep the inputs low.”

Inputs include seed, fertilizer, tires, belts, parts, equipment, water and fuel. While the delivered cost of “red” or “farm diesel” has dropped to $1.70 per gallon, the other inputs farmers must manage each year have remained high.

“Gas and diesel are down, but oil still sells for about a dollar a cup,” Riverton farmer Richard Haun said.
Diesel, gasoline, hydraulic fluid and motor oil are examples of products that should fluctuate with the price of crude oil, but others do not.

Replacing tires, belts and hoses is a big part of the daily ritual of agriculture, and the price of these items has not budged since the fall of crude oil.

It is an annoyance for consumers that prices for petroleum-related products jump immediately when the price per barrel of crude rises, but those same products don't drop nearly so fast when the crude oil market does.

Richard Pingetzer tills about 2,000 acres near Bass Lake in northeast Fremont County. He estimates the drop in fuel prices has saved him about $12 per acre in production costs, representing a savings of $24,000 a year over the price for fuel in 2013.

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Source:  Daily Ranger

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