Gas Price Drop Is a Boon for Farmers

Anyone who commutes for work day-to-day has noticed lower fuel prices at the pumps--probably with deep gratitude. But the media attention to this good news has been less upbeat than the positive feeling drivers are enjoying for the savings at the pumps.

For farmers who run numerous trucks, tractors and heavy equipment these lower prices are like being handed a bundle of cash. It's hard not to notice that some in Washington who had no problem complaining about gas prices over $4 a gallon and blaming the president now seem to have lost their voices!

Over the past five years or so I have been forced to absorb the higher costs of seed and high fuel prices. Seldom were there any monies left for federal crop insurance updating farm equipment, irrigation, labor or any of those other necessary tools needed to have a good sound crop. Lower fuel prices will not solve all the problems facing small farmers but they certainly help!

In my home town of South Hill, Virginia, I now filled up my Chevrolet pickup truck for 46 bucks--a long way from burden of $70 a tankful not long ago. The high fuel prices we paid until late 2014 have had a crippling effect on small farmers.

Most farmers use tractors that run on diesel fuel. The soaring cost of diesel fuel over recent years has been devastating to America's farmers. When diesel fuel prices toppled $4 a gallon the effect was staggering--but not just for farmers. The high price of seed and the combination of high costs for fuel quickly show up as higher prices at the grocery stores.

And we are subject to issues in international trade, just as many other businesses affected by international commerce. Setbacks such as the recent issue with Syngenta tampering with the China corn market may have cost American farmers upward of $3 billion in losses--all bad news for grain farmers like myself.

Critics of the Obama Administration have happily blamed the Executive Branch for higher fuel prices in past years, but many are keeping mum about the current lower prices. In 2012 Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) was cited in The Hill newspaper as privately urging GOP lawmakers to make rising gas prices a big issue against Democrats and the White House.

But this week, the Speaker's message turned to anger at what he called "a lack of a national strategy to increase the oil and energy supply in the United States." No surprise that the Republican leader finds a downside of even good economic news where the White House is concerned.

I remember in early 2012, when gas prices were approaching $4 per gallon. Republicans were eager to blame President Obama for consumers having to pay more at the pump. "[Obama] gets full credit or blame for what's happened in this economy, and what's happened to gasoline prices under his watch," then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney said.

Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed. "This president will go to any length to drive up gas prices and pave the way for his ideological agenda," he said in February 2012. House Speaker John Boehner made similar comments.

Well if that's the case in the view of the Republican leadership then the president has to be given credit for lower gas prices. The president actually has little to do with the price at the pump. But his energy polices sure helped. I have not seen gas prices at $1.87 per gallon in longer than I can remember.

Although I struggle every year to plant and harvest my crop, I accept and endure the challenges of my agricultural life. By the same token, I expect politicians and critics to give credit when it is due, get out of the way and let us have our too-seldom moments of joy. Right now, I am thankful enough to dance with glee.

And it won't cost me four bucks a gallon!

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