Farmers Asked to Help with Propane Shortage

Created: 02/05/2014 6:54 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- With propane prices skyrocketing, Minnesota's Agriculture Commissioner and propane industry officials are urging state farmers with excess fuel to sell it back to suppliers. We talked to  local farmers, all who say they don't have enough excess to give back.

Day after day as we've covered this issue, propane prices continue to rise. Some people are seeing bills in the thousands just to heat their homes. This is all being blamed on a propane shortage, something area farmers say they saw coming during fall harvest. "Propane was high priced for drying corn even his fall comparably where it was a year ago," said Eyota farmer Ed Kaehler.

Since farmers rely on propane for drying corn during a wet season, like this last one, the department of agriculture and propane officials are hoping they'll have some left to spare. "It's a publicity stunt, I would say," said Kaehler.

Kaehler says with prices already picking up this past fall, he and most of the farmers he knows only purchased the bare minimum. "There might be some larger farmers that have 1000 gallons, but we don't hoard it. It’s an unnecessary evil in the corn drying  business," he said.

With the little he has left in his tank, he doesn't think it’s feasible to ship back. "I mean, to get the guy to come out and pump it out on a day like today for 200 gallons, it’s kind of ridiculous," said Kaehler. So while the AG commission, propane industry, even Minnesota's Governor try to get to the bottom of this, those relying on propane continue to face a big financial blow.

We spoke to a handful of other farmers in the area, who also didn't have excess propane to give back, but think the idea isn’t too far off. Right now, Minnesota is still in a state of emergency declared by Governor Dayton.