Rising fuel prices felt on the farm

Valley farmers said they're being hit hard by the combination of reduced water supplies and now rising fuel prices.
April 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Valley farmers said they're being hit hard by the combination of reduced water supplies and now rising fuel prices. The average price of a gallon of unleaded in Fresno is $3.95. Diesel is selling at an average of $4.10 and farmers know the price will continue to rise.

Growers all over the Valley will pump groundwater throughout the summer because of severe cutbacks in water deliveries due to an ongoing drought.

With diesel prices already starting to spike, Fresno county citrus grower Keith Nilmeier knows it is going to be a long, expensive season.

"The big concern is it's early and we're just getting started, so if we're starting to see fuel prices go up this much right now and it's still relatively cool weather. As those temperatures go up they're going to place more demand on energy," said Nilmeier.

Nilmeier relied on his groundwater well exclusively to grow last year's crop through November but the pumping never ended because of freezing temperatures.

"We had to come right back in the first week of December to pump for frost protection so it was very expensive," he explained.

Nilmeier also runs a trucking business to move produce so he goes through about 7,800 gallons of diesel every 2 1/2 weeks. Nilmeier talks with his fuel supplier at least every other day - checking prices to see if it's worth storing more diesel on his ranch. He looks at fuel almost like a stock.

"Exactly. Right now with the price going up we're trying to keep our tanks closer to the top end because we know it's going to keep going up, going up, going up," Nilmeier replied.


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