The price of gasoline is controlled by supply and demand, and with summer vacations on the horizon, prices are starting to rise.

Gasoline prices are cyclical, Robert Irvin, president of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, said Thursday.

Irvin spoke at the monthly agribusiness group breakfast at Baugher's Country Restaurant.

Every year, prices usually are hiked around Memorial Day when demand goes up, he said.

Irvin also talked about the effect of the Persian Gulf war on gasoline prices.

The MAPDA is a trade association representing independent marketers of petroleum products. It has about 200 members, he said. Irvin is based in Frederick.

In Maryland, independent marketers sell about 25 percent of the motor fuel sold in the state and about 90 percent of the residential heating fuel, he said.

Nationally, independent marketers sell about 50 percent of the motor fuel and about 75 percent of the heating fuel, he said.

Gasoline prices escalated during the war in part because petroleum is traded as a commodity, subjecting prices to an "emotional" stock market, Irvin said.

OPEC also played a part inthe price fluctuations, he said. About 25 percent of the oil imported to the United States comes from OPEC nations, he said.


Bunnies and goldfish shouldn't be given as prizes at games at county fairs and carnivals, the county's Agriculture Commissionsaid Thursday.

The group, which advises the county Board of Commissioners, agreed to ask the commissioners to write to the Maryland Secretary of Agriculture about the issue.

The secretary can grant approval for the animals to be given as prizes, said William Powel, county administrator of the Agriculture Land Preservation Program and commission member.

In other business, the commission:

* Voted to ask the commissioners to consider alternate ways of preserving farmland from development, such as transferring development rights from an agriculture area to a municipal area or creating a land trust.

Some alternatives were suggested last year in a report to the commissioners on the future of agriculture, Powel said.

The county might establish an interim fund that would allow it to buy development rights more quickly than the state preservation program could, he said.

*Voted to recommend that the commissioners adopt an ordinance concerning the confinement of wild animals with two provisions.

The groupsays persons with a state license to raise game animals should be exempt from the ordinance, and the ordinance should be flexible to accommodate changes, Powel said.

* Discussed a proposal by the University of Maryland to conduct a census of the horse population in the county.

The university wants to count the state's horse population after doing model studies in Carroll and Prince George's counties. Thecost of the study in Carroll would be $5,000, and the university hasagreed to pay half, Powel said.

* Appointed a subcommittee to examine the issue of removal and disposal of dead animals. John H. Sanders of the Soil Conservation Office is chairing the five-member committee, which will report back to the group in September.

The Agriculture Commission, with 17 members from different segments of the agriculture community, was appointed by the commissioners last fall.

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