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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