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March 27, 2011

Increased fuel prices don’t pose much concern

While the rest of the United States is dealing with the increasing cost of fuel prices, it may not be affecting farmers as much as some people may think.

“Certainly, it plays a role into higher input costs,” said Corinne Alexander, a Purdue University agricultural economist. “Diesel is only five to 10 percent of the costs. ... The impact of the higher costs is smaller than most people are anticipating.”

When a farmer pays for fuel, Alexander said they notice the increase.

However, the commodity prices are so much higher this year, she said it makes up for the increased fuel costs.

Tamara Ogle, Cass County Purdue Extension agriculture educator, said even though fuel is obviously up and farmers and agribusinesses use a considerable amount of fuel, she’s not sure many changes will be made.

“I’m not sure that will change decisions as much this spring as it does in the fall as far as storing and drying grain,” she said.

Still, farmers are doing things to help reduce fuel use.

Alexander said it’s not much different from the everyday person driving a vehicle.

“If you think about it, it’s not all that different from us. We still have to commute to work and they still have to plant their fields,” she said.

More farmers have become more aware of increased fuel prices and take that into consideration when purchasing new fuel-efficient equipment.

Another thing they can do is plan their work before hand, Alexander said. Since many farmers work more than one field, she said they make more than one trip during the day to maximize their work and minimize the number of separate trips made during the season.

Cass County farmer Dean Hartley said the increased prices aren’t affecting him too much right now.

“We no-till everything, so we don’t burn a lot of fuel,” he said.

Hartley said he’s been using the no-till method for 10 years mainly because it’s better for his type of soil, it’s quicker and cheaper.

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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