Agriculturalists to tackle energy crisis
July 11, 2008
Utah farmers and officials will gather next week in Park City to discuss what could be an impending food crisis as fuel costs skyrocket.
According to Randy Parker, CEO of the Utah Farmer’s Bureau, "We may see a national security issue if agriculture is not a major consideration in energy." Even for Utah’s agricultural industry, 80 percent of which is dependent on livestock, the ripple effects of energy and the floods in the Midwest have caused serious concerns. Turkey production prices, for instance, have risen as much as $3 a bird.
As the Farmer’s Bureau began to plan for their conference in Park City, they gauged the status of agriculture so that they could use the event to address issues concerning farmers. Without a doubt, said Parker, the greatest difficulty facing agricultural workers in Utah now is rising fuel costs.
More than 200 agricultural workers and industry leaders will discuss this issue through a combination of lectures and breakout sessions July 17-18 at the Park City Marriott. Guest speakers will include Utah Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, Jason Chaffetz and Bennion Spencer (both candidates for the Third Congressional District), and Niger Innis. Innis, a spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, will take these energy issues a step further and discuss the effects of energy policy on minority agriculturalists.
These combined issues have made the mid-year conference one of the largest in the recent past and should give farmers an opportunity to seriously consider alternative and renewable sources of fuel. "We’re about as broad-based as we can get," said Parker, in terms of discussing different sources of energy available to farmers. Currently, Utah farms run on about 90 percent carbon-based fuels he continued. And, if nothing else, energy efficiency has certainly been a trend of late because farmers can not afford to waste fuel or even manure, which integrates natural gas.
If farmers are unable to find solutions to their energy issues, using events such as the mid-year conference to discuss possibilities, Americans will have to look forward to a continued increase in food prices and a drop in protein products, meat, on the market. Historically, said Parker, Americans have only spent about 10 percent of their income on food, but that is about to change.