Oil crisis causes problems, opportunity

by Susie Applegate
    The recent rise in oil prices may have caused a stir in Washington, and it will certainly be problematic for America’s commuters, but here in agricultural Wilbur County we have our own special issues which will cause difficulty for farmers.
    Many aspects of agriculture are currently dependent upon oil. Most harvesters, and other farm equipment runs on diesel or gasoline; commercial fertilizers are produced with petro-chemicals; and transportation of our products requires the trucking industry.
    Wilbur County, because of its foresight, has been a leader in alternative technologies and organics, which do not use petro-chemical additives. But many of our farmers are still stuck in the old ways, dependent on the oil economy. These people will be hurting, and there is no quick fix, according to Harlan McCoy.
    Harlan McCoy, of McCoy Industries, has been a leader in taking Wilbur County into the appropriate technology future. He has promised to invest several hundred thousand dollars in expanding biodiesel production in the county, and helping farmers convert. But McCoy has a sobering caution.
    “I used to think that biodiesel was the answer,” he said, “but I’m not so sure anymore.”
    McCoy pointed to the recent riots in Mexico as the cause of his concern. “Corn meant for humans and animals, is now being purchased in huge quantities for American automobiles,” he claims, “and I don’t see how we can justify that.”
    McCoy believes that ultimately the American love affair with the automobile will have to end. But in the meantime he is investigating a possible way to bypass the use of corn and other food crops for fuel.
    “Sugar beets,” he announces with a big smile. “They can be grown in areas of the northwest where regular food crops don’t do so well. We can never produce enough to replace oil – not even close- but it should be enough to meet our agricultural needs.”
    When asked if he thought the current oil crisis was permanent, McCoy shrugged. “It’s got to run out someday. I can’t say if it’s a structural crisis, or another example of oil company manipulation of the market. But it’s sure got folks in the government shook up.”

For more information about the current oil crisis, visit: World Without Oil.

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