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Searching for the meaning in gas prices: he said, she said, blah-blah

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On the second article at the bottom of this periodical, this describes what's going on with gas prices rising.
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  www.southeastfarmpress.comWEDNESDAY, MARCH 20,2013 COMMENTARY Don t count peanuts outfor 2013 planting season I f you had asked me around Christmas time how manypeanuts Southeast growers would plant this April andMay, I would have said maybe half  a  crop.At the time we had more than a six-month supply goinginto the 2013 season.Ask me now,, and I'm not so sure.We still have too many peanuts. Thanks to foreign buy- ers primarily China, the inventory  is  moving fast, nearly 50percent more exports this winter than last winter.Compared to corn, soybeans and wheat, peanuts are asmall acreage crop. As such, when a buyer, like China, buysa large quantity in a short period of  time,  it can make a bigdent in supply, and subsequently demand, and price; and itcan amp these up in a big hurry.One point of evidence is the Chinese purchase of pe- cans,  an even smaller market than peanuts, but the impacton supply and demand could be similar for the two crops.Everyone, without exception, I've talked to about pea-nuts over the past few weeks is urging growers to wait aslong as they can to make decisions on how many acres ofpeanuts to plant. The big trump card in the waiting gameis China and for growers who thought recent purchases bythe Chinese was a one-time thing, think again.One veteran peanut buyer says, The Chinese keepcoming back and coming back  —  they really like the price,quality and reliability of delivery of our peanuts. Now, weare faced with some interesting choices from growers allthe way up to end-users. With shellers running full tut, full time, the availability ofshelled peanuts has become uncomfortably tight for some   Roy Roberson domestic buyers. One of thoseinteresting choices has to do withChina buying large quantities offarmer stock peanuts. Unless we start to see farmerstock being exported directly toChina, the sheller's will likely of-fer farmers stock pricing basedon where the market is now (March) and that probably willnot be enough to make the farmers plant a lot of peanuts, says veteran Stewart Parnell, former owner of Peanut Cor-poration of America, which was at the center of salmonellaissues back in 2008 and 2009 and still faces charges basedon that debacle.Legal problems aside, Parnell remains an astute buyer of U.S.  grown peanuts. He says, one thing that could changethe price of peanut contracts is that he is getting inquirieson farmer stock from China now, but just don't know howbest to manage or even work with that as it would cause ahuge uproar by the shellers. I just don't think  I  would want to be a part ofthat, Par-nell says.How much pressure Chinese buyers will put on domes-tic buyers to offer higher grower contracts remains to beseen. As planting time moves closer and closer the windowof opportunity for peanut growers in the Southeast getssmaller and smaller.If growers could count on another perfect growing sea-son, like 2012, the decision to plant more peanuts would (See  Commenary, Page 9 ISSUES Searching for the meaning in gas prices:he said, she said, blah-blah W atching the dollars wheel spin feverishly past on thegas pump these days is somewhat equivalent to thecogs whirling in one's head, trying to fathom why priceshave skyrocketed in the past month, reaching historic highsfor this time of year.In my town, prices are up more than 50 cents per gallon,with almost daily increases. Some areas of the country arealready seeing $4.50-4.75 ... and the busy summer drivingseason is still three months away.Determining where the fault lies in escalating gas pricesis much like a hamster on a revolving wheel — one getsnowhere fast.The blamers are many, their villain of choice diverse: Itis (pick one or all) Obama's fault, or the monopolistic oilcompanies. Congress, OPEC, China, refiners, environ-mentalists, the EPA, the lack of new refineries, the closingof refineries. Hurricane Sandy, Winter Storm Nemo, notenough new energy, too much new energy, exporting of U.S.  energy, speculators, and on and on.Ironies abound: The media talking heads were yammeringof  l te  that U.S.-produced ou and  gas  supplies  are  at an aU-timehigh. This on the heels of  reports  that ou, gas, and refined pe-troleum products are now the leading  U.S.  export.Raising, of course, the inevitable question: If the U.S.is producing so much more oil and gas, why aren't pricesstabilizing or going down? The analysts say, well dummo,the oil market  is  just one giant barrel that everybody's oil ispoured into, and price of the oil in that metaphoric barrelis a function ofthe world market, blah, blah  —  and oh, justincidentally, because the companies can get more selling itto China and Europe and elsewhere than they can get here.Then there's the refineryparadox, spawning articles andanalyses that would stretch thelength of the in-limbo Keystonepipeline. Critics point out thatno new refineries have been builtin the U.S. in 30 years because of  Hembree randon environmental opposition andoverly stringent EPA regulations, that besides, the oil com-panies have shut down almost half the refineries in the U.S.,that refinery profits have been ballooning in recent years,and the companies use refinery capacity as an excuse tomanipulate prices at will.Not so fast, says the other  side:  Indeed, no new refinerieswere built for over three decades and a lot of old, inefficientfacilities were in fact shut down, but at the same time ca-pacity at existing facilities has been continually expanded.Further, they say, it wasn't the EPA or environmentaliststhat thwarted the building of new refineries, but the hugeinvestment required and the low profits in refining.Others say it's all the fault of speculators, who care nota whit about pump prices, as long as they can make a bucktrading futures. Ah, the traders say, but that's just the mar-ket at work  —  a price-setting mechanism, don'tcha know.As for the president and Congress, well, they have aboutas little influence over pump prices as you or I. They canbluster and bloviate, and even take some oil from the na-tion's strategic reserve, but any effect is minuscule and verytemporary.You get the picture: He said, she said, and nobody's anynearer to a revelation. 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