KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — The price of fuel is something affecting every member of the community, especially if the prices are going up.
“Being a realtor and showing homes every day, I plan my trips,” Kari Airgood, a real estate agent, stated. She works with Deb Paton Showley Team at Coldwell Banker, Warsaw, and does her best to plan her travel appointments without crisscrossing counties.
When fuel prices go up it makes her much more aware of how much fuel she is using on a daily basis and she attempts not to waste fuel when possible. In order to try to get the best deal on gasoline she will scout out gas stations with cheaper fuel prices and also offer discounts for paying with cash, which has become normal for her.
Considering those who have to use more fuel, such as farmers, helps her to appreciate the fuel her vehicle consumes. Her travel to other countries has also helped her to appreciate simply having gasoline available at any gas station as opposed to stations she has visited that can run out of fuel for weeks.
Mike Morehouse, a farmer on US 6 just north of Milford, explained there are ways to hedge fuel prices in ahead of time. He is able to purchase so many gallons in advance and, if the prices appear to be going up, he will contract all of his fuel expenses for the year in the spring. Switching to diesel fuel for his tractors has saved him money in the long run as well as they get more power than a gas tractor.
Using approximately 5,000 gallons of fuel each year, Morehouse described how much of the fuel consumption depends on irrigation. “Consumption of fuel goes in cycles for a farmer,” he explained. Irrigation systems use quite a bit of fuel, so his fuel costs increase significantly if he has to irrigate 10 times as opposed to just one time.
With fuel prices increasing in recent years and diesel fuel being one of the more expensive types of fuels, many of the irrigation systems have been switched to electric in order to save money.
When it comes to prices, Morehouse asserted, “We’re farmers and we have to be flexible.” Compared with the tariffs farmers are currently paying, fuel prices does not seem to affect him as much. He explained they are not making as much money and are currently losing more money per bushel. To him the money lost with taxes is far more substantial.
Growing corn, seed corn and soybeans, Bob Bishop, a Leesburg farmer, has noticed the increase in fuel prices but does not yet consider it a huge jump. Since 99 percent of the fuel he uses is diesel fuel he also uses forward pricing in order to help keep the fuel prices more level. Currently he does not have any fuel on contract, though. Keeping his farm and road fuel separate also helps since he is not charged road tax for farm fuel.
While some trucks are used year-round, the majority of fuel is used in the spring for planting and in the fall for harvesting. Since he uses a sizable amount of fuel each year, Bishop has advisors which give him a “heads up” on fuel pricing trends in order to try to make it the most profitable.
Nick Goralczyk, a Knights of Columbus Insurance field agent, has appointments with clients four or five days a week. With his territory spreading between Angola to Peru, it is not uncommon for him to travel between 300 and 400 miles each week.
Since the travel is part of his job position, he does not get reimbursed until it is turned in each year with his taxes. However, budgeting can prove difficult. With fuel prices fluctuating weekly and between eight to 12 appointments each week it can be difficult for Goralczyk to plan fuel costs for the week or even the month.
However, he does have secrets to keeping his cost down. Like Airgood, he attempts to cluster his appointments so he is not driving across the state daily. He also admitted he attempts to keep his gas refills to the Syracuse and Warsaw areas because they tend to be cheaper than the other areas in his territory.
“It’s the way the economy goes,” Morehouse admitted. “It’s just a part of life.”