WASHINGTON - Rocky Mountain Farmers Union member Ryan Niebur told the Senate Agriculture Committee Nov. 9 that rising input costs are making it hard for family farmers and ranchers to stay afloat.
"Farmers are not only talking about the tremendous increase in costs, they are discussing concerns of surviving and they are talking about the outrageous profits being reported by the oil industry," Niebur told the senators as he testified on behalf of the National Farmers Union.
He emphasized the consequences of recent increases in the price of natural gas and diesel fuel.
Natural gas is the main ingredient in nitrogen, used as fuel to run irrigation motors. Diesel fuel is the main source of fuel used to power farm machinery and equipment, combines, tractors, semi-tractors and pick-up trucks. Increases in petroleum products also drive up the cost of fertilizers.
"Farmers and ranchers are in a situation that does not allow us to pass on these additional costs as a 'surcharge' which other industries, such as truck lines and airlines, are able to do," Niebur explained.
"There is no doubt in anyone's mind in my area that the rural economy is deteriorating because of declining commodity prices, and skyrocketing input costs as a result of higher energy costs."
NFU is asking Congress and the President to aid farmers in helping offset high energy costs. NFU has been a long-time advocate for renewable, biobased fuels and believes that more effort needs to be made to produce fuel from the farm to decrease the nation's dependence on foreign oil and bolster rural economies.