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Gas prices threaten rural economy

By Staff | Jun 10, 2011

High gas prices that seem poised to get higher this summer pose a threat to the slow economic rebound the farm states have been experiencing in recent months.

That’s the message from the most recent Rural Mainstreet Index, a snapshot of the rural economy in 10 Midwestern states calculated monthly by economists at Omaha’s Creighton University.

“Even though the Rural Mainstreet economy is expanding, higher energy prices are beginning to slow growth,” said Dr. Ernest Goss, an economics professor at Creighton University who oversees this respected monthly indicator of economic conditions, in a May 19 statement accompanying release of the latest survey results.

Tom Latham, the Iowa Republican who represents Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has responded strongly to the warning from Goss and his colleagues at Creighton.

“Like Americans across the country, Iowa families, farmers and small businesses are feeling the real economic pain of reduced income due to rising gas prices every time they fill up their tanks,” Latham said in a statement released by his office May 20. “And now we have proof that high gas prices are putting a drag on Iowa’s economy.”

This threat to the Midwestern economy underlines the importance of the nation developing a comprehensive energy strategy keyed on increasing domestic energy production.

Latham is poised to be a leader in crafting and enacting just such an energy game plan. He has been named to the House Energy Action Team. That group is committed to addressing the emerging energy crisis by promoting greater U.S. energy independence.

“We are working hard for a policy that emphasizes clean, safe and responsible American energy production,” Latham said. Long a champion of the renewable fuel industries so important to the rural economy in the Hawkeye State, he recognizes that the approach to meeting the nation’s future energy requirements must be multifaceted.

Farm News shares Latham’s concern about the negative consequences for the rural economy of high gas prices. In truth, the recovery of the entire American economy could well be derailed by gas prices in the $4 to $5 range.

Latham’s involvement in helping craft a comprehensive energy strategy is an excellent development. The congressman is one of the most talented members of the House. He can be counted on to make a major contribution to this important undertaking.

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