Last year Wyoming farmers saw less crop production, causing thousands and thousands of dollars to be lost in input expenses. Unfortunately, this may only get worse this year.

As more policies move towards producing alternative energy solutions, traditional energy production is losing federal support. As a result, countless farmers relying on energy products, like diesel and fertilizer, are at risk of delayed production and, even worse, losing their farms, as energy costs also continue to soar in comparison to recent years.

Without these vital energy products, agriculture’s decline could also end up damaging our national GDP as well as consumers that rely on the availability of certain crops. With the nation’s disrupted supply chain, labor shortages, and price hikes on fertilizers, farmers are struggling to meet the growing demand for everyday food items like wheat and eggs. Without a better solution, consumers, grocery stores, and even restaurants will feel the heavy strain of energy inflation risking severe food insecurity for millions of Americans.

Federal and state lawmakers must take a thoughtful, measured approach and avoid moving away from natural gas.  We are already seeing disruptions in electric reliability, which is difficult on farmers and ranchers and families alike.  Policy makers must acknowledge food production is heavily dependent upon the petroleum industry with inputs not readily replaced from renewable energy sources.  We support an all-the-above approach to our energy needs, including investments in technology which can bolster our energy and agricultural economies while also advancing renewable energy.

Wyoming is working hard on this front and has taken a leading position on carbon capture.  In his State of the State address, Governor Mark Gordon referenced carbon capture six times and the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee will make it a primary focus of their work during the interim.  We look forward to learning more about the technology and how it can benefit core economic sectors in Wyoming, including agriculture.

Studies show that carbon capture is critical to decarbonizing larger-emitting but vital industries like mining, refining, and chemical processing.  Industry is under attack, be it coal, natural gas or agriculture.  We’ve all seen articles questioning the future of Wyoming’s leading industries.  It is essential that we collectively embrace technological advancements.  This is especially true given the role industry plays in our everyday lives producing essential products from food, to pharmaceuticals, to cell phones.

Carbon capture technology can allow farmers and ranchers to continue to use essential natural gas and mining resources.

Considering the Cowboy state’s unique expertise in mining and extraction, there is great potential to use carbon capture technology to help increase domestic energy production while continuing to reduce emission impacts on the environment. By extracting crude oil, the state could also increase the production of fuel like diesel and ethanol as well as fertilizer for farming while capturing about 90% of carbon emissions.  Commendable goals that warrant support from true conservationists, those of us who make a life and living from the land.

Let’s give credit to Wyoming for working on solutions.  If carbon capture can give Wyoming a seat at the table and ensure that all our farmers, ranchers, families, and communities have the resources they need, we should lend our support.  The doomsday scenario playing out in the press is simply not realistic for civilization, let alone our rural communities and lifestyle.  People need to eat and as we know, food isn’t produced in a grocery store.

By Todd Fornstrom, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation President