Texas Is Not Greece But... Crude Bust Leads To Olive Oil Boom

Texans know all too well that relying too heavily on the oil industry can lead to trouble, and so, as Bloomberg reports, as crude prices tumble, landowners across Texas are accelerating production of a different kind of oil -- olive oil. "I can't look, it's depressing," mourns one Eagle Ford rancher over oil's demise, but "I love the trees," he brightens up as about 70 farmers across the state - up from 24 in 2008 - are hoping to cash in on America’s growing appetite for olive oil.

Texas isn’t traditionally olive country, and two decades ago the state had virtually no olives to speak of. In the late 1990s a handful of farmers became intrigued by the prospect of growing olives in the state. As it turned out, the climate in parts of central and southern Texas was well suited to the Mediterranean specimen. And now, as Bloomberg reports, the Crude oil bust is fueling an Oilve oil boom...

Five years after one of the biggest oil booms in decades boosted royalty checks, a steep decline in oil prices has Texans seeking new ways to stay ahead. About 70 farmers across the state -- up from 24 in 2008 -- are hoping to cash in on America’s growing appetite for olive oil, a small part of the latest effort to diversify the economy of the second most-populous U.S. state.

 

In 2013 Texas farmers planted about 500,000 olive trees, up from 80,000 trees in 2008, according to figures from the Texas Olive Oil Council. The council expects around two million trees to be planted by the end of next year.

 

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The U.S. is among the world’s largest consumers of olive oil, yet it produces just a fraction of its own consumption. About 97 percent of the olive oil used in the U.S. is imported from overseas...

 

Last year the U.S. imported $1.1 billion worth of olive oil, up from around $400 million in 2000, according to import figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

California remains the dominant producer of American olive oil, accounting for almost all of the nation’s domestic production. Last year the state produced approximately 3.5 million gallons, according to the association.

 

Texas, which produces less than 15,000 gallons a year, is a mere drizzle.

Texans know all too well that relying too heavily on the oil industry can lead to trouble. In the 1980s, the bottom fell out of the oil market, leading to a wave of bank failures and, eventually, a regional recession. Thomas Tunstall, research director at the Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio, preaches economic diversification.

“I’m working with them to try to figure out how not to become the next ghost town,”

 

To be sure, olives aren’t a panacea.

 

“You have to be very careful about thinking olives are the salvation to counties that are dependent on the oil industry,”

 

Coffman isn’t daunted, and says he has nothing to lose, especially as oil prices continue their downward march. “Nobody knows what these Eagle Ford wells are going to do,” he said, noting that estimates put the life of his wells in the range of 15 to 50 years.

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It appears the Texans are a little less exuberant about the oil price drop than the mainstream media proclaims people in America to be...

 

But shifting to Oilve Oil  - which looks even more boom and bust prone - might not be a great idea either!