The price of gas is once again rising in Nebraska and across the nation. The average price of gasoline in our state now tops $3.60 a gallon, up more than 3 cents from last week. The price of diesel has jumped to $3.80 a gallon.
These increases not only cause more pain at the pump, but also hurt nearly every part of our economy by increasing transportation costs.
Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in rural Nebraska. Farmers and ranchers in the Third District have told me how spikes in the price of fuel increase the costs at every stage of production and ultimately hurt consumers.
For example, a farmer in York County explained he uses up to two gallons of fuel per acre for tillage, a third of a gallon of fuel per acre to plant, and about two and a half gallons of fuel per acre to harvest. He also uses six diesel wells for irrigation, and must use even more fuel to fertilize his crops.
With 1,500 acres of corn, a small uptick in the price of fuel can quickly add up – even before it is transported.
The same farmer says a 50 cent increase in the cost of diesel increases his transportation costs by 10 cents per mile.
He averages 40,000 miles a year hauling corn. Ultimately, these increases will be paid by end-users such as livestock producers and consumers in the form of higher feed and food costs.
The more hardworking families have to spend on food, fuel, and other essential expenses, the less money they keep from their paychecks to save or spend.
As gas prices go up, the cost of products continues to rise, especially those transported to port. This could make our agricultural exports less competitive in foreign markets, undermining the success of expanded international trade in recent years.
Despite the serious threat rising gas prices pose to our economy, President Obama did not address this problem in a major speech on the economy this week – likely because the President’s energy proposals would further increase the cost of fuel by limiting American energy production.
We are taking a different approach in the House of Representatives. We understand generating more American power and fuel from all sources would lower costs.
We are working to enact an all-of-the-above strategy to utilize our vast domestic resources, reduce regulatory obstacles, and take advantage of new drilling techniques.
This strategy could help make our nation energy independent, grow our economy, strengthen national security, and create jobs. Only then can we lessen the threat of high gas prices to our economy, and ease the pain at the pump.