Farm Bureau Policy is Energized


WindmillsThrough its statewide grassroots system, Farm Bureau’s voting delegates have adopted numerous policy statements addressing the many aspects of today’s energy equation. Yet, despite all the words that capture the numerous concerns of the majority of the state’s 52,000 farms, Farm Bureau policy is clear when it comes to the issue of energy—heightened research and expanded production of all energy sources should be a top priority. When income is dependent on energy costs, the need for a stable and inexpensive energy supply to fuel farm machinery, dry grains, store fruits and vegetables, maintain livestock and produce fertilizers becomes even more pressing. Accordingly, Farm Bureau policy deals with numerous aspects of the energy equation that directly impact farmers. Few of us have forgotten the economic hardship created when gas prices increased to more than $4 per gallon during the summer of 2008. The incomes of all North Carolinians fell even further as service providers and manufacturers felt the impact and raised their prices.

Farmers, however, couldn’t raise their prices, which are controlled by the market and contracts. Growers are price-takers not price-makers like the oil ministers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which includes Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. According to economics and plain logic, moving away from dependence on OPEC is in the best interests of farmers and all North Carolinians. Farm Bureau policy reflects this fact. “We recommend that North Carolina assume its role to help meet the energy needs of the nation,” NCFB policy reads. “We encourage offshore and inland exploration and development for oil, natural gas, minerals and peat to be permitted by the state with adequate protection of our natural resources.” President Obama recently opened up sections of the East Coast, Gulf Coast, Alaska and other areas for oil and natural gas exploration. North Carolina’s share of the projected offshore oil and natural gas production revenues could result in as much as $577 million annually for the state’s coffers.

North Carolina Farm Bureau has advocated for offshore energy based on policy, which is clear on the point, yet also sensitive to environmental concerns. After all, farmers are the first conservationists.
Farm Bureau policy also calls for increased research and utilization of alternative sources of energy, such as solar, shale, tar sands, winds, nuclear, ocean tides, coal, wood and biofuels. In order to protect North Carolina’s farmers and residents, we need a complete domestic energy strategy that makes use of all the resources we have at home. A brief in the April 2010 issue of Carolina Country, the magazine of the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives, reveals some eye-opening facts about energy:

• It would take 667 D-cell batteries to run an average refrigerator for a day. —Indiana Statewide Association of Electric Cooperatives
• To replace all the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. with wind power farms would require 59,456 square miles of land mass (roughly the size of Georgia), even before building transmission lines to carry the power. —Wind Vision
• To build a typical 800-megawatt nuclear plant today will cost about $5 billion and produce enough energy to serve the annual needs of about 6.5 million homes. An equivalent-sized photovoltaic solar facility would cost about $10 billion, would serve about 1.4 million homes (when the sun is shining) and would require about 8,000 acres to construct. —NCEMC

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