Thursday, March 17, 2005

Natural Gas Prices Hit Farmers Hard

That's what Nebraska farmer Charlie Kruze told a congressional hearing today:

Testifying before a House Small Business subcommittee, Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau and a member of the AFBF [American Farm Bureau Federation] Board of Directors, said the United States’ failed energy policy cost U.S. agriculture more than $6 billion in added expenses during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons.

Natural gas is especially important to agriculture, Kruse explained, because it is used to produce nitrogen fertilizers and farm chemicals, as well as electricity for lighting, heating, irrigation, and grain drying. Natural gas can account for nearly 95 percent of the cost of nitrogen fertilizer.

“Between 2000 and 2003, the average retail cost of nitrogen fertilizer skyrocketed from $100 per ton to more than $350 per ton,” Kruse said.

According to Kruse and Farm Bureau, domestic exploration and recovery of energy resources using sensible, environmentally sound methods must begin immediately. Greater use of renewable energy sources including ethanol and biodiesel also will go a long way toward solving our nation’s energy woes, Kruse said.

Farm Bureau also supports incentives for the use of clean coal technology in electric power generation and the use of nuclear energy.

Earlier this year, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, NEI Executive Vice President John Kane said that additional baseload electric generation supplied by nuclear energy could help relieve some of the pricing pressure (PDF) in natural gas markets.

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