LABELLE, FL. -- Escalating fuel prices are impacting not only the motoring
public, but the state's agriculture industry as well, Florida Agriculture
and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said today.
To help consumers gauge gasoline prices around Florida, Bronson unveiled a
web site that will provide weekly updates on the average price of regular,
mid-grade and premium gasoline, as well as diesel fuel, in 20 Florida major
metropolitan areas. The web site is located at
Bronson said the state's 44,000 farmers have seen fuel prices increase by a
reported 68 cents a gallon in the past year, adding well in excess of $100
million to their agricultural production costs. Growers are highly
dependent on fuel for operations on their farms, transporting their crops
to market, and to receive shipments of seeds, plants, fertilizer and other
materials they need to operate their farms and ranches. Costs for all of
those activities have increased.
In an effort to ease both Florida and the nation's dependency on foreign
oil, Bronson is spearheading an effort to have Florida farmers grow fuel
crops to support this production. Known as "Farm to Fuel," the initiative
stems from the "25 x '25" vision, which calls for 25 percent of the
nation's energy needs to be produced by America's farms, ranches and
forests by the year 2025.
"Florida is well positioned to be a leader in this effort because of our
available farmland and our mild climate," Bronson said. "The goal is to
reduce the country's dependency on foreign oil, and at the same time to
provide alternative crops that our farmers can grow to keep our industry
At Bronson's urging, the Florida Legislature, which concluded its 2006
session last week, provided $5 million this year for grants in support of
bio-energy research and demonstration projects in addition to $10 million
slated for other renewable energy technologies.
"We see this initiative as holding real promise to assist our country in
reducing its dependence on foreign oil and in giving our growers
alternative crops that may be the difference in whether or not they keep
their land in agriculture," Bronson said.