“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
(Aldo Leopold, American author and enviromentalist, 1887-1949)
Natural gas and oil are essential in maintaining a sustainable American agriculture industry. They aren’t just necessary for the manufacturing and production of numerous, every day goods that everyone uses.
They’re also critical for making sure that the food we eat successfully gets from farm to table. And feeding people is critical to our national security.
The Agri-Business Supply Chain
All throughout the agri-business supply chain, oil and natural gas are helping to fuel the operations that drive the chain forward. They power farm equipment, heat buildings, and dry grain stores. They provide the electricity necessary to keep the lights on and business running. And they help to supplement green, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power by providing an “always-on” supporting energy source.
And, just as oil and natural gas are necessary for the creation of a multitude of products that we use in our daily lives, they also help to create thousands of products that are crucial to agri-business. For example: Input and manufacturing of fertilizer, feed, packaging, machinery, cell phones, computers, boots, and gloves.
On top of these critical supply chain roles, many farms and agri-businesses also benefit from the lease and royalty payments made by the oil and natural gas industry from the safe and successful development of oil and natural gas stores on their properties.
Critical for Crop Production
From planting to harvesting to processing, oil and natural gas are critical parts of crop production. They provide the fuel that powers farm equipment that perform the planting process. Even the seeds themselves are manufactured in an energy-intensive process that is fueled by oil and natural gas.
Irrigation is no different. The plastic pipes that are used in drip irrigation are oil and natural gas products. The water that is used for irrigation is pumped from wells and groundwater sources often using oil and natural gas power.
Modern fertilizers like nitrogen-based varieties are manufactured using natural gas.
Natural gas and oil power the heavy equipment like combines, pickers, or other mechanical harvesters used to harvest the crops.
And they provide the propane and electricity used in the fuel-intensive, high-temperature crop drying process.
Moooo-ving the Livestock Industry Forward
From the farm to the grocery store, oil and natural gas help to drive the livestock industry at virtually every stage.
Livestock operations are heavily energy dependent, from ventilation systems, refrigeration, lighting, and heating to watering, motors, and waste handling. Natural gas and oil power these functions, as well as help maintain the optimal heating/cooling living conditions in livestock facilities on a year-round basis. They also help to produce and power the automation of livestock feeding to make sure the animals receive the necessary and proper nutritional diet.
And, just as with the way they drive the delivery portion of the crop supply chain, natural gas and oil drive the livestock supply chain, as well.
Finally, To A Table Near You - Or Across the Globe
Natural gas and oil are critical for completing the final stages of the agri-business supply chain and making sure that these products make it to stores, kitchens, and ultimately, to your tables around the world.
They help to drive:
- Processing. From fermenting grapes for wine, ginning cotton, pasteurizing milk, to maintaining the proper temperatures, energy is used to prepare crops and livestock for market.
- Packaging. Natural gas and oil are used for packaging, either to automate the process or to create the packaging material. For example, plastics are made from petroleum products, and glass manufacturing is mainly fueled by natural gas to heat the furnaces that melt the raw materials.
- Transportation. Moving goods to market uses natural gas and oil, whether it is by truck, air, boat or rail.
Natural gas and oil are essential to maintaining a sustainable American agriculture industry.
Our nation’s position as a leading producer of natural gas and oil drives input costs down and secures our ability to continue to supply American agriculture communities with the energy and supplies to help agri-businesses grow. And energy infrastructure such as pipelines, helps sustain this growth by safely transporting natural gas and oil 99.99% time to their destination.
- How Agriculture Uses Energy
- Natural Gas Now: Pipelines and Agriculture Can Work Together
- How natural gas and oil is used in states (Energy & the States).
- From Farm to Table (infographic)