Americans are experiencing sticker shock at the gas pump these days, but high fuel costs are hitting America's farmers and ranchers especially hard.

According to testimony presented last week by the American Farm Bureau Federation, government figures show farmers this spring will pay almost 85 percent more than they paid in 2000 just to plant their crops.



Testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee, Colorado Farm Bureau President Don Shawcroft said America's farmers and ranchers need reliable and reasonably priced fuels in order to maintain their ability to feed, clothe and fuel the world. Farmers and ranchers, he explained, cannot simply pass higher expenses along to their customers.



"Most Americans are feeling sticker shock caused by high gasoline prices when they fill their automobile's tank," Shawcroft said. "But there is no term in the English language to accurately describe what farmers and ranchers feel every time they put diesel in the tanks of their farm equipment."



Shawcroft cited numerous examples of the economic impact currently experienced by farmers and ranchers. He said the cost just for refueling a typical tractor can be more than $1,000. "Depending on the number of acres being covered, farmers and ranchers have to fill those tanks multiple times just to complete the work on one field," Shawcroft said.

He also explained that the impact is far more than just higher costs for fueling tractors, harvesters and trucks. Higher natural gas and petroleum prices greatly increase the price for fertilizer, and crop protection products.



Shawcroft said sound public policy can help provide answers. He told members of the committee that America must renew its commitment to domestic oil and gas production, continue to develop all sources of renewable energy and do more to make all forms of home-grown energy available to all American consumers.


"Energy rich repositories such as the Outer Continental Shelf, the Bakken Oilfields and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must be explored and opened for oil and gas production," Shawcroft said.



Shawcroft also said home-grown energy must be made more available to American consumers through implementation of the approved increase of the ethanol blend rate to 15 percent, building a biofuel infrastructure that includes blender pumps and biofuel pipelines and continuing to provide incentives, such as the tax credits currently in place, to encourage the production of biodiesel fuels.


"We must continue to develop all sources of renewable energy. Much advancement has occurred in the production of renewable energy sources such as ethanol, biodiesel, biomass, wind and solar energy."