Middle East crisis will affect U.S. agriculture industry
22-Feb-2011 | News-Press Release
COLLEGE STATION – Fallout from the crisis in Libya and the Middle East could
put pressure on U.S. agricultural production due to escalating fuel costs,
according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist.
“Libya has the largest crude oil reserves in Africa, and it’s a flash
point,” said Dr. Parr Rosson, AgriLife Extension economist and director of
the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University. “The
concerning thing is what it’s going to do at a time when we’ve gone through
a couple of years where (crude) prices have been relatively stable. This could
put some real economic pressure on costs in agriculture.”
If sustained, higher petroleum prices would result in higher agricultural
commodity prices as well, Rosson said. That would be passed on to the consumer
resulting in higher food prices.
“The whole overarching issue of instability in that region is interesting and
amazing at the same time,” Rosson said. “This all started with a small
country (Tunisia) and because of instant communications, that being social
media, it’s now spread throughout a large portion of the Middle East and even
evidence of some unrest in China.
“That’s very important as well. All of this comes on the heels of one of
the worst recessions we’ve experienced in decades. We are extremely
vulnerable as a manufacturing industry, and the agricultural industry in
particular because of energy costs.”
Rosson said this strengthens the discussions of utilizing natural gas as an
alternative energy source.
“Our saving grace in Texas is natural gas prices,” he said. “Converting
to natural gas over the longer term is a real plus for Texas because of our
reserves and the ability to produce natural gas. There’s a lot of incentive
there to effectively produce and utilize that very important resource.”
Farmers already regularly use natural gas to power irrigation systems, Rosson
Contact: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259, email@example.com
Dr. Parr Rosson, 979-845-3070, firstname.lastname@example.org
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