DOVER, Fla. — A tax-free diesel fuel shortage for farmers in Central Florida is threatening crops and could send prices for agriculture commodities skyrocketing by early next year.
Farmers are reporting a shortage of diesel fuel from suppliers at the port, which is leading them to fuel up at local pumps in competition with the general public, and paying full price per gallon of fuel.
What You Need To Know
- Diesel fuel shortage for farmers in Central Florida could threaten crops
- Farmers are reporting a shortage of diesel fuel from suppliers at the port
- Diesel fuel is heavily used by farmers to help power water pump houses to water crops
“Every time our fuel supplier goes to the port they are being told that the allocations aren't there for them,” said Matt Parke with Parkesdale Farms in Dover. “So we are really having to go to different gas stations to get regular road diesel out here."
Diesel fuel is heavily used by farmers to help power water pump houses that get water onto newly planted crops.
Without diesel fuel, Parke says new crops could be at risk.
“If they run short and we are in the middle of trying to live these plants in, you know, they are going to die,” said Parke. “And we will have 50 to 80 percent loss."
Standing next to a bagged diesel pump, Bennett Station owner Darwish Elhajji says he’s seeing the struggle over the fuel shortage daily.
Bennett Station is a bulk supplier for the kind tax-free diesel farmers in Plant City use for everything from water pump houses to tractors and other field equipment.
“Any negative effect to the crop in this city will affect everyone, it will be a trickle down,” Elahjji said.
Elhajji says the current diesel fuel shortage is a manufactured problem by suppliers to restrict the amount of diesel on the market.
The restriction is driving high prices even higher, and is leading to questions from farmers about when relief may come.
Should crop yields be less than a normal year, the U.S. market would need to rely on imports of strawberries and other commodities to fill in the gaps.
Lower supply of U.S. agriculture commodities could also send prices at the store even higher despite any increase in imports.