Fast rising fuel prices concern South Georgia farmers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fast rising fuel prices concern South Georgia farmers

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It's planting season, and Skyrocketing petroleum prices have South Georgia farmers concerned.

As the farmers get ready to run their tractors under heavy loads, they see the price of the diesel to run them going up daily. And they can only wonder how high those diesel prices will rise.

You know how much it hurts everytime you come to fill up your car's gas tank.   That increase cost you five or ten dollars more than the last fill up. Well farmers are really feeling it as well during planting season.   And those expected increases over the rest of the summer could hit the South Georgia economy hard.

As he prepares to plant cotton and peanuts, farmer Jimmy Webb keeps an eye on oil prices as much as the weather and commodity prices.

Webb said "Everything is tied back to oil, a lot of it out here."

Those John Deere tractors will burn 100 to 125 gallons of diesel a day. Last year he paid $2.34 cents a gallon for off road diesel. This year it is $3.41 a gallon, and still rising. But it's not just the tractor fuel. Fertilizer is petroleum based, and the dry fertilizer price is up more than 35 percent over last year. And everyone has to wonder how high the prices will rise? Can they make enough to cover it?

Webb said "That's the million dollar question. Commodity prices are good. If they stay up the fuel won't hurt us so bad. If for some odd reason the cotton and corn prices come down, then it will hurt us."

Many farmers use diesel motors to power their irrigation pivots, and if the diesel prices continue to skyrocket, the cost to grow their crops could as well. Most farmers borrow the money needed to produce a crop.  If fuel costs increase dramatically, some farmers may come up short on the money they need to keep the water flowing.

Webb said "You've got to have fuel to make the crop. Either with your tractors or your irrigation. That's going to hurt. You may have to say I need a little more. Extend that line of credit a little bit further."

Most South Georgia farmers are hoping these higher commodity prices can help them make a good profit, and that will have a huge impact on the local economies. Those skyrocketing fuel prices could really impact that optimism.

It's not just the farmer. Higher fuel costs will make delivering their products to the supermarket more expensive as well. The cost of most foods are increasing right now as well, as the increasing cost of petroleum makes the price of everything go up.

Most South Georgia farms are very dry right now, so as soon as farmers put a crop in the ground, they have to turn those irrigation pumps on to wet them down. A wet summer could really help cut the amount of fuel they have to use to grow their crops.

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