Propane delivery problems hurting farmers

After a late planting season and cold harvest season, the inability to get needed propane in time is making an already bad situation for farmers, worse.

Posted: Nov 12, 2019 7:04 AM
Updated: Nov 12, 2019 7:20 AM

BLOOMING PRAIRIE, Minn. - A rainy spring and cold winter has farmers doing what they can to harvest crops.

"It's been an unusal harvest.It's been wet, cold, it's been a struggle," Pat O'Connor at O'Connor Family Farms said.

Farmers like O'Connor are playing catch up after a late planting season and cold harvest season.

It has farmers needing propane to heat corn and get the moisture out so the crop doesn't spoil.

For O'Connor, his corn is coming in at about 22% moisture and he needs to get it below 15%.

"Our corn can spoil in the bin and then it's worthless. And especially on cold days like today, it takes a lot of propane to heat the corn up," O'Connor said.

He said normally his propane tank, which holds about two semi loads of fuel, will last him about a week. But it's a different story this year.

"This year we're using more so it will take about five, if it's full! The problem has been, it's been very challenging to get it full because just everyone is needing propane," O'Connor said.

On a phone call with KIMT, the Minnesota Propane Association said an unusually high about of farmers are needing propane to save crops after a difficult year of farming.

The organization said it has delivery drivers struggling to keep up with demand. The MPA told KIMT there is not a shortage of the fuel but a transport problem, delivery drivers can't get propane out to all the farmers who need it in a timely fashion.

Here is a link to just how many million barrels of propane are being produced in the U.S. every day.

O'Connor is waiting for a shipment to come on Tuesday and said he's grateful he's getting his shipments just in time.
Other farmers aren't so lucky.

"Quite a few friends, neighbors, they've had to shut down and wait for propane shipments," O'Connor said.

He said it's not unusal to see a challenge in propane deliveries this time of year, but he's never seen it this bad.

"We're going day by day," he said."Everyone's doing the best they can. It's just one of them situations, you have to work around it you can't get too concerned about it. It's out of our control."

Both Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds have signed emergency executive orders easing restrictions on how long delivery drivers can be behind the wheel to help get that much needed fuel delivered.

Both of the orders expire at the end of November 2019.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also lifted driver restrictions in Nebraska and other states to get propane delivered.

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