If you’ve read this column for any length of time, then you know I am obsessed with the fact that tires are agricultural products. Natural rubber is a key component in every tire, some more important than others. Without it, tires will not be able to perform at the same level. I’m not a chemist or an engineer, so my knowledge of rubber compounding is rudimentary at best, but I know enough to know that nothing is more effective than natural rubber for certain performance characteristics. According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), natural rubber comprises 34% of a truck tire, which is the most of any raw material or component. Passenger and light truck tires are 19% natural rubber, so the price of tires can be linked to the price of rubber.