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David Sparks Ph.d Diesel Prices
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Idaho Ag Today
Date: May 11, 2018

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With the vast majority of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the United States moving to their final destination by truck, on-highway diesel fuel prices play a significant role in setting the rates specialty crop growers must pay to get their product to market. For individual growers, the impact of rising fuel prices depends on distance, perishability of their crop and method of transportation. But as USDA’s Economic Research Service summarized in a 2013 report, “Overall, as fuel prices rise, so do wholesale produce prices and the margins between farm and wholesale prices.” For this reason, the steady upward trend in on-highway diesel fuel rates since early 2016 has growers starting to wonder when they’ll get some relief.

For farmers and ranchers who rely heavily on truck transportation, the last five years have been anything but steady. In that time, we’ve witnessed three distinct periods. During the first period, on-highway diesel prices typically exceeded $3.75 per gallon and averaged nearly $4 per gallon. However, once diesel prices broke the $3.75 per gallon barrier in September 2014, rates fell steadily and significantly. Diesel prices hit a five-year low on Feb. 15, 2016, at $1.980 per gallon. Since that low point, diesel prices have steadily risen. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s weekly Specialty Crops Truck Rate Report, released on May 2, 2018, reports a U.S. average price of $3.157 – a level last seen in January 2015.

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