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Farmers feeling impact of high fuel prices in daily operations, trying to find ways to save

Many farmers call for more domestic oil production
farmers record prices
Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 19:10:43-04

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. — Just about everything a farmer does on the farm requires some type of vehicle.

They use tractors and combines for planting and harvesting. They use trucks to transport hay and for all kinds of other daily operations.

These vehicles require a lot of diesel fuel.

Mike Moreland's family-run farm in Harrisonville is one of the many farms in the metro that feel the impact of high fuel costs.

"This tractor today is going to take about $375 to fill up, and last year it was half of that," Moreland said while filling up a tractor.

You take a combine that holds about 100 gallons of fuel and a tractor that holds about 75 gallons. You think about how often they're used in a season, and it will come out to $25,000 extra in fuel just this year.

We rely so much on farmers' crops.

"In the next few weeks, we'll be getting the ground ready and getting ready to plan corn and soybeans. That doesn't stop, that goes on," Moreland said.

So, farmers have to come up with ways to save.

"Well, you budget first of all," Moreland said. "And you take advantage when the prices are low. You contract for a year out maybe, you prepay."

The Moreland's commodity prices are up a little bit from last year so that helps, but the high fuel prices may mean holding off on buying new equipment this year.

The Missouri Farm Bureau said for farmers, it comes down to one thing:

"The answer is going to be drill, pump, repeat. It really is that simple." Garrett Hawkins, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said.

Hawkins said their members want an energy policy that increases oil production here in the United States, which means opening pipelines the Biden administration closed in 2021. It would also include exploring more renewable energy sources like ethanol, biodiesel, solar and wind.

"We should ease regulations, so that we make sure we are taking care of ourselves, our fellow Americans," Hawkins said.

Moreland said he thinks renewable fuel sources, like electric vehicles, will become more prevalent with time. Does he see himself with a fleet of electric tractors any time soon?

"Someday, maybe so," Moreland said. "We were just at a farm show where they used a compressed natural gas on some models. They can use a different form of fuel. A lot of large dairy farms are collecting the methane gas from the waste and turning that into fuel from their tractors, so that's another option."

With higher fuel prices comes higher fertilizer prices.

"Our fertilizer is over twice as high as it was a year ago," Moreland said. "So that's another thing we're budgeting on, how much do we cut back on that?"

Moreland has a good fuel supply right now but he wonders what prices will be like come mid-summer when he has to fill up again.

"You hope it goes away soon, but you plan that it doesn't," Moreland said.

Hawkins said as they're trying to speak with lawmakers, consumers should be assured farmers are still pushing on.

"We're going to get a crop in the ground. I'm still going to wean my calves this spring," Hawkins said. "We can't control all the constraints on the supply chain, but just know we're doing our part to make sure the food supply remains ample."