Farmers and ranchers throughout the country are taking steps to change their energy consumption by using more green technology, according to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
“One of the main reason is to become greener and help the environment, but it’s also to help their bottom line in terms of their production costs,” said AFBF economist Matt Erickson.
“Since January to the end of April we saw oil prices increase by about 25 percent. During that time farmers were planting and they incurred a lot of costs that hurt their bottom line. We saw that on average for five major row crops, it was about 15 percent higher for their production costs. From the end of April until now we’ve seen a decrease by 26 percent. The volatility is pretty outrageous because next year we’re expecting to see oil prices jump up to $101-$102 per barrel.”
He said the United States imports 45 percent of its oil from foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iraq. To fill up a 270-gallon-tank tractor at current prices costs about $1,000 per fill up.
Erickson said there are lots of ways farmers and ranchers are incorporating renewable energy: solar power to run the lights in barns, wind to power water pumps for livestock and irrigation, biofuels to run equipment and what is called an anaerobic digester used by hog and dairy farmers.
But he said programs that help farmers and ranchers with the initial investment to install equipment that can cost thousands of dollars is in danger.
“There is an energy title within the farm bill. Eight of those programs within the energy title do not have funding after 2012. So where is this money going to come from to build that infrastructure, to build those digesters, those wind turbines, etc? That’s going to be one of the biggest challenges – funding – because of the budget situation.”