As if this 12 months hasn’t been tough sufficient on the agriculture neighborhood, Oklahoma farmers can now add “global diesel shortage” to their hardship bingo card this 12 months.
Just weeks after an govt order was positioned by Gov. Stitt to proceed drought reduction efforts for farmers, experiences of what some are calling a devastating diesel shortage are rolling in to accompany farmers into the already harsh winter season.
Tim Heinrich, who serves on the board of administrators for the Garfield County Conservation District, and runs a 3,000 acre farm operation of his personal in North Central Oklahoma says a modern-day mix, just like the one he at the moment makes use of on his farm for harvest will usually require about 150 gallons of diesel a day to get the job finished, a job that in the long run, will price him extra in gas than he’ll get again in gross sales.
“I’m harvesting soybeans that aren’t even worth harvesting right now,” he mentioned, including a rise in diesel prices makes each part of each perform of his farm costlier.
“Most of us have diesel pickups that we use to feed cows with all winter long, all the trucks hauling the crops to and from the farm, all of our farm sprayers, our combines and our tractors. All of it is at the mercy of the rising cost of diesel,” he mentioned.
The U.S. Energy Information Agency experiences of their November Short Term Energy Outlook that diesel costs are practically 50% greater than this time final 12 months, and our reserves are on the lowest stage since 1951. But how did we get right here?
“Demand is returning back to where it was in 2019, and supply is literally producing a million barrels a day less than it was in 2019,” mentioned U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R- Cheyenne) former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Lucas mentioned one of many challenges is that since 2019, 5% of the refining capability we had three years in the past to transform oil into diesel not exists.
“It’s either been converted to biofuels, it was antiquated older equipment, or it was determined cost effective when demand was down. So we have 5% less refining capacity, but the refineries that are running are working harder than they have in 20 plus years. So as demand goes up, supply is restricted by how much we can grow,” he mentioned.
“You can only get so much diesel out of a barrel of oil. It’s just the nature of it.”
Another problem, Russia.
“Supply and demand circumstances in the world affect the prices in Oklahoma. Add in the dictator Mr. Putin invading his neighbors and the Ukraine, and Europe and the Western world’s response to stop buying Russian products. That’s also affected things,” Lucas mentioned.
Heinrich, who additionally serves on the Garber co-cop board, a regionally owned farmer cooperative that gives fertilizer, feed, gas, and chemical substances to farmers within the space, mentioned the diesel shortage is impacting different farm merchandise as nicely.
“We’ve had to cut back on some of our farm chemicals and fertilizers because we just can’t get them. There are so many shortages right now because a lot of these things are manufactured at plants that burn diesel.”
Heinrich mentioned the neighborhood is making an attempt to adapt and study to do extra with much less, however it’s laborious to maintain up with this and the rise in inflation.
“All of our input costs have doubled or tripled. We’re the only part of the food chain that cannot control our sales price,” Heinrich mentioned.
Whether it’s a pair thousand acre operation or a pair dozen, farmers all throughout the state are feeling the stress of those value will increase.
“Farmers are cutting back on everything from farm life, to family life,” Megan Whitehead, who runs a small 30-acre farm together with her household out of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, mentioned.
“All the prices have gone up except for what we earn.”
Megan not too long ago needed to promote her herd of beef cattle after not having the ability to afford their hay feed this September. Still recovering from a current knee surgical procedure, she mentioned she’ll must put in for further hours on the hospital she works at to maintain their household from having to unload components of their land to get by means of the winter.
“I’m lucky that I can pick up overtime every other week at the hospital, but so many other farming families don’t have that option,” Megan mentioned.
Heinrich mentioned most Oklahoma farmers are working on borrowed cash.
“Almost every farmer out here has a big old loan. The people in town might drive by and they see our equipment and our barns and they think, oh, he’s got it made. But we’re all one hiccup away from losing it. Every one of us is just one hiccup from losing it,” Heinrich mentioned.
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