Like those of most Americans, Dennis Johnson’s fuel costs have doubled. He used to spend $25,000 on fuel, and now he spends $50,000 — every month.
Johnson is a sixth-generation Michigan dairy farmer who also raises beef, corn, alfalfa, oats, and sorghum on 5,000 acres. His operations are extensive, with more than 20 tractors, more than 15 semi-trucks, 50 employees, and a trucking business that transports feed, manure, sand, and the farm’s milk production. The skyrocketing cost of fuel isn’t the first blow to the business either; it’s just hitting them when they’re already down.
“Things have been challenging since Covid,” Johnson told The Federalist, explaining that the farm’s milk is mostly used in restaurants’ cheese and custard, and those markets almost completely dried up for months during the height of the lockdowns. “There were some dark days.”
Now supply-chain issues are compromising operations too. Johnson said equipment and parts that used to be generally available can now take six months to arrive.
Just the cost of soybeans and corn to feed the cattle is going to cost an additional $1.5 million or more this year, Johnson estimates. “Fertilizer has doubled in price and we don’t even know if we can get what we need. Our local suppliers have little to none in stock. Chemicals have also gone through the roof. Roundup for example has gone up six times,” he said.
These skyrocketing fuel costs are not surprising, given the Biden administration’s radical pushes for green energy and its relinquishing of U.S. energy independence since his very first day in office. But while Biden can try to pretend it’s all Russia’s fault and say he “can’t do much right now,” as he did on Tuesday, millions of Americans across the country are barely keeping their heads above water. The cost of mobility is completely unsustainable.
It Costs to Commute
Allison, who asked that we withhold her last name due to employment concerns, isn’t operating a 5,000-acre farm, but she is driving 50 minutes each way to and from the Minnesota public school where she teaches. Gas prices are hitting her hard.
The commute to and from the school, which is located in the Twin Cities suburbs, had so far been worth it because she loves the at-risk and underprivileged children she gets to work with. She’s in her third year, is up for tenure, and has lots of sick time banked, which could come in handy as she and her husband look ahead to starting a family.
“These gas prices are making me wonder if I committed too soon to returning next year,” she told The Federalist.
Allison fills her tank twice each school week, burning through a little under a quarter-tank each time she drives to or from school, and prices are about $4 per gallon.
“On a teacher’s salary, I’m easily spending $100 on gas in order to commute. If my commute cost hasn’t doubled yet it’s quickly on its way,” she said.
Other Americans are looking for ways to relocate closer to work. Shayna Goeman drives just under 15 minutes to her job at a bank in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and has been planning to move further away to an area where rent is cheaper. Now she’s rethinking that.
“The commute wouldn’t be worth it,” she said. “Now I’m going to have to look for apartments closer to work, which likely means higher rent costs. It’s a no-win situation at the moment.”
Family Separation Policies
After two years of Covid madness, when many families were prevented from seeing one another, Biden’s high gas prices are also keeping families miles apart and stuck at home once again. One wife and mother in Maryland, Jennifer George, had been planning to visit family in Minnesota but said that given the gas prices, she doubts she will be able to make it happen.
“We wanted to be all together before my brother-in-law has valve replacement heart surgery, but it’ll be unlikely we’ll be able to unless something changes,” she said.
Grace Peters, who lives in Michigan with her four children and pastor husband, said fuel costs are preventing her too from visiting her family in Alabama. She used to go see them two or three times a year but said this year she would be lucky if it happens once for a holiday.
Given her family’s low income, they’re cutting costs wherever they can. For her, that means staying home as much as possible while her husband is at work. It’s basically another round of quarantine.
“I’m trying to not leave the house so I don’t need to drive the van,” she told The Federalist, noting that it costs $60 to fill that vehicle, which gets poor gas mileage. “It means staying home with four children all day every day as much as is possible to not use gas. We’d love to go places and I wish I could take them to a science museum or children’s garden, but they’re all 20-30 mins away in Lansing, and I can’t justify the gas costs.”
Charity Ferguson, a mother of six in Wyoming, shares many of the same concerns. “We have a hard time doing fun things for the kids,” she said, “and if we want to do an arcade or amusement park we have to plan very far in advance because it costs so much to get anywhere.”
The nearest grocery store, which Ferguson calls “rip-off Ridley’s,” is 35 miles away. So is her family’s church. And her sons’ football and basketball games are anywhere from 35 to 200 miles away in one direction.
“Every time we fill up our vehicle it is $95, and it would be more but our credit card stops the pump,” she said.
How Low Can You Go?
During his State of the Union Address last week, Joe Biden said his “better plan to fight inflation” is for businesses to “lower your costs, not your wages.” But for business owners eating massive fuel-related overhead, lowering their costs is not an option without going under. Many of them are forced to raise prices, hurting American consumers and killing small businesses.
Mason Gross, who works for sign company Ford Signs, Inc. in coastal Oceanside, California, said diesel fuel prices in that area are pushing $6 per gallon and have gone up almost a dollar in the past week. He said these gas prices are affecting customers, many of which are new businesses in need of signage, because Ford has been forced to raise its prices by hundreds of dollars since it costs so much to drive to each job.
“That may not sound too bad to most people, but anyone that’s starting a business typically doesn’t have an extra $300 laying around,” Gross told The Federalist. “It’s something I see directly affecting families I work with.”
This One’s on Biden
“Directing affecting families” could be used to describe all of Biden’s disastrous policies at home and abroad. Families are directly affected by green energy dreams and empty shelves just as they have been affected by joblessness over vaccine mandates and the deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Americans are poorer, weaker, sadder, and unhealthier than they were before Biden took office, and no amount of blame-shifting by the president, his press secretary, and the Big Tech and media spin machines can deflect from the fact that he owns this reality. Coast to coast, gas prices are keeping people awake and keeping them at home — which is to say that stressed and isolated is the state of America with Biden at the helm.