Farmer worries what rising gas prices mean for his business

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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - You probably have noticed you're paying slightly more at the pump lately. Over the past week, gas prices have increased by sixteen cents in West Virginia.

In Harrison County, gas prices are hovering at about $2.28, but Loyd Sigley, a local farmer in Bridgeport, fears a spike could be catastrophic to his business.

"I'll probably have to end up shutting down if it keeps on going up and up and up," Sigley said.

On the farm he calls Hillbilly Heaven, Sigley uses goat milk to make soap. The business he runs with his wife is aptly named 'Hillbilly Heaven Goat Soap.' Transportation eats up much of his costs. That becomes a daunting reality when gas prices rise.

"Every time the fuel goes up--the truckers who handle these animals--[their fees] go up," he explained. "If you were paying $5 a head to ship them, and it goes to $10 or $15, that hurts the profit."

Sigley and other farmers are nervous that they're heading down this road. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met last week, deciding to cut production.

"If they can restrict supply and drive up the price, they can make more profits," Dr. John Deskins, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University, explained. "It's a standard monopoly model."

And while Dr. Deskins says it's hard to tell how much gas prices may rise, he did warn to keep an eye out.

"Gas prices could go up further if OPEC is able to keep this supply constraint in place, and if they're able to make that even tighter," Dr. Deskins cautioned.

When Sigley thinks about the worst case scenario, he remembers business back in 2008 and 2012, when the price of gas was pushing up to $4 per gallon.

"We didn't travel as much--people didn't, because they couldn't afford it," Sigley recalled.

Traveling to craft shows used to be a major stream of revenue for Sigley--until he was paying more at the pump. You can hear that part of the conversation above this article.