Propane Shortage Increases Trucking Needs

Nov 21, 2013

As colder weather approaches the farmlands spread across the bread-basket of America, Farmers begin the routine of harvesting and drying grains to prep for distribution. This process is a simplified chain of order that begins with the planting season, and ends in the grain elevators. Unfortunately, there have been three events this year which have disrupted the supply chain and are now a cause for concern throughout the Midwest.

There was a delayed start to the planting season, which pushed back harvest from the get-go, while heavy rains in September and October have increased the moisture in the corn harvest by as much as 7% (source: INFORUM). This increase in harvest moisture is the generation of most worry.

A propane shortage has swept through the region with many crops' harvests occurring at the same time. Being the primary medium for drying crops in preparation for storage and distribution, this shortage has put many farmers between a rock and a hard place; store moist grain over the winter in hopes that it won't spoil, or leave crops in the field with fingers crossed that the weather won't shift to winter cold to early and freeze the grains.

Major propane distributor, Kinder Morgan Company, has stated that they are reaching out nationwide for truckers to assist in distribution to minimize the impacts of this drought.  With a three-fold increase of propane through its Cochin Pipeline, Kinder called upon the state governing bodies of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Montana and other Midwest states to relax the recently stringent hours-of-service regulation for truckers. The propane is available, but because of the high demand throughout the region, in addition to the new hours-of-service policy enacted in July, it is proving difficult to get the propane from the pipeline to the grain elevators.

Hopefully this issue will clear up so that we all have plenty of cornbread and stuffing this Thanksgiving!