Oklahoma

For $200, Jim Hadwiger buys enough diesel fuel to keep his 260 horsepower tractor running for one and a half days.

The Cherokee, farmer is one of a growing number of businessmen feeling the pinch of higher fuel prices.

"I am paying twice as much for fuel today as a year ago, and I am getting $5 a ton less for my hay," Hadwiger said.

He uses about 6,000 gallons of diesel per year.

In response to the escalating fuel prices, Oklahoma Farm Bureau is encouraging lawmakers and the oil industry to look at ways to lessen the burden on key industries, such as agriculture. The state's largest family farm organization believes lifting the cap on value-added tax credits would provide incentive to build an ethanol plant using Oklahoma-grown grain sorghum.

"Production agriculture's dependency on petroleum and petroleum products makes this a priority issue," said Steven Kouplen, president of Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

Farm Bureau also encourages domestic oil producers to increase production and pressure refineries to meet the growing demand for fuel.

"Fuel prices are too high, in relationship to crude oil prices," Kouplen said. "It is not just agriculture that is suffering. Transportation, construction and even municipalities are in the same boat.

Consumers ultimately will pay the price."

Meanwhile, farmers are looking for ways to reduce fuel consumption.

"I probably won't plant about 100 acres this year," Hadwiger said. "I will just leave it fallow." The north Central Oklahoma farmer added he also will make fewer trips across the field and look for hay markets closer to home

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