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From Fair to Factory Floor, Energy Talk Dominates

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Three more events Wednesday in the 25th district, and three more examples of how the energy issue is having an impact on politics at the ground level.

Dale Sweetland
Dale Sweetland talks cattle shows as he admires Annette, a prize-winning heifer, at the Wayne County Fair. (Photo -- Courtesy of Ben Pershing)

Capitol Briefing spent the day trailing GOP candidate Dale Sweetland around the district, visiting a company that supplies industrial hoses, a dairy plant and a county fair. At all three stops, Sweetland encountered people with specific complaints about how the high cost of energy is hurting, or altering, the way they do business. And Sweetland said that was fairly typical of his experiences on the campaign trail.

"That's what people are talking about most when I'm out there," Sweetland said.

At the Liverpool headquarters of JGB Enterprises, a company that assembles and supplies hoses and hose assemblies to commercial customers and the military, gasoline prices have made it more costly for them to ship their wares.

"It's been a significant hit for us, particularly with the freight companies," said Bob Zywicki, the company's president. "And manufacturers around the country are hitting us with price increases."

Zywicki, who supports Sweetland in the House race, suggests that a combination of new oil drilling and alternative fuels is the best solution for the current crisis. "If all the tree-huggers hadn't been blocking the way, we wouldn't have all the troubles we're having now," he said.

The next stop was Byrne Dairy in Syracuse, where milk from surrounding farms -- 10 million pounds of it a month -- is processed and bottled. The business is growing rapidly and adding employees, but high energy prices are changing the economics of the business.

"Energy costs are brutal. It's very hard to be competitive," said Nick Marsella, the company's vice president of production. He said that twice in the last six months, the company has had to raise the price it charges farmers to haul their milk from their farms to the plant. Those two quick increases came after the price had stayed the same for about five years.

The afternoon's itinerary ended with a visit to the Wayne County Fair, in the more rural -- and Republican -- portion of the district in between Syracuse and Rochester. The conversation there wasn't actually dominated by talk of energy prices. Visitors seemed more interested in checking out the prize-winning cows and sheep and discussing their concerns that the ring where the top heifers would be shown off later on was a bit too small to accomodate an audience. And high gas prices don't seem to have driven up the cost of funnel cake, thankfully.

But there was some talk of energy, not just about high prices but also about the opportunities and new markets opening up as a result. Steve Olson, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, was at the fair showing off some goats raised on his farm in Lyons. He raises them for meat, not for milking, and hopes to raise more to feed the appetites of the local Asian, Caribbean and Muslim population.

Unlike cows or pigs, goats don't need to eat grain or corn, which has become much more expensive as demand for ethanol has grown. Goats, Olson said, are the animal equivalent of garbage disposals, so they're cheap to feed.

"This is perfect," he said. "They'll take grass. Poison ivy. Canadian thistles. They'll eat anything."

By Ben Pershing  |  August 14, 2008; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Next: Political Terrain Shifts on Drilling Issue


What Factories Ben? So where have you been
hiding or sleeping here Ben as the USA no
longer has any factories in it,since the
Idiot in Chief George W Bush and the greedy
Congress and Factory Owners moved them all
to China,or India you village idiot Ben?
Good God Man What Factories?

Posted by: Claudine 1000 | August 15, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Ben What Factories? Stop your delusional nonsense and leave the Obama
Toxic Kool Aid Alone Ben.

Posted by: Sandy5274 | August 16, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

So Ben Baby when did all these "Factories"
suddenly mysteriously appear all over the US now? So does that mean Messiah and Miracle Worker Barack Hussein Obama simply
waved his "magic wand" and lo and behold
they all appeared for us now Ben?..Oh well
what can we expect from a WAPO Obama Shill
like Ben anyhow?

Posted by: Sherry Kay2004 | August 17, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

The oil crisis is not the fault of the "tree-huggers" who consistently get scapegoated by those who want to find just one group to blame. Apparently, anyone who wants to keep the environment clean is somehow the enemy here.

The fault, as Iago reminds us, "is in ourselves," and is global and local.

For starters, we are now competing with China and India.

Secondly, there is a rule-of-thumb to use in talking about transportation--the 300 mile range of commuting that most Americans stay within on any given day. It is that 300 mile range that we continue to avoid talking about that needs to be looked at more seriously. That would mean looking seriously at urban and rural public and/or private commuter systems as options to the pandemic of single-passenger cars commuting into the urban areas every day. One only has to drive in Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, or Boston to realize that the single-passenger car is out of control.

Public Commuter systems, by the way, are not about speed. A subway, bus or trolley may not get you to your job faster. Speed is not the issue here; it's oil conservation, a more rational use of space(the car is metastasizing in the U.S. and China, if anyone has noticed. It is taking up far too much space), and it's about saving our communities from so many carbon related hazards.

Thirdly, Obama, being the sometime pragmatist that he is, is at least looking at the possibility of off-shore drilling with some seriously thought-out caveats, one being to pay attention to the environment and to look at the energy issue more comprehensively.

When the debate about oil and energy becomes rabidly narcissistic without considering the total effects on the community, we're going to continue down the Ayn Rand, it's-all-about-me kind of self-centered capitalism that once made Enron the icon of so many in this country.

When do we start looking at global and community responsibilities here and start moving off the center of rational approaches?

Posted by: John T. Marohn | August 18, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

John McCain is right on energy! We should do everything to break our addiction to imported oil, because it is a threat to our economy and our national security. Only an immature candidate, who is not ready to lead, can you say Nobama, would insist on not doing every thing to conserve energy and provide all Americans access to our American energy resources.
America's off shore energy resources have estimates based upon out dated 1970's technology. Nobama has introduced a Senate bill that would prohibit use of new 3D and 4D off shore energy exploration, by any one to find out about how much off shore energy really exists. How stupid is the judgment of Nobama to just say no to finding out how much off shore energy actually exists? Way stupid or as Bubba Gump would say "stupid is as stupid does." Nobama does not have the judgment to lead our country. With the use of new 4D technology new oil wells can be drilled with an amazing 70% success ratio of actually producing oil! In the last few months, Brazil just found their largest new underwater oil field off their coast line. How many new fields like this exist off America's shores? John McCain wants to find out, while Nobama just wants to say no!
Nobama is the captive of far left environmental whackos, who want to use only the energy that will in the words of Nobama, "will require the complete transformation of our economy." Gosh, I’m amazed, in the middle of some of the worst economic times Americans have faced recently, Nobama wants to risk our economic and national security future, not just by raising taxes; but, Nobama also wants to not expand and not use proven off shore energy resources. Instead he wants to use only those energy resources duly approved by his tree hugging friends, which will require an abrupt transformation of our economy. Imagine that, Nobama is afraid of finding out what energy resources exist off shore because his far left supporters do not want Americans to use those resources. Instead, Nobama wants to use new technology that does not exist and is not cost effective and ignore energy resources that are proven, such as nuclear power, clean coal, and off shore oil and gas. Nobama wants to put only a few our potential energy eggs in a tree hugger approved small basket, while John McCain wants to utilize all of our energy eggs, and increase the total energy eggs in a basket, as large as possible. Nobama wants you and your family to have a drastic negative change in your life style. That is change we dare not believe in and judgment we dare not trust to lead our country.

Posted by: Charles F. Ellis | August 19, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

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