Perfect Storm Creates Propane Pain

Cindy ZimmermanGeneral

In recent years, the U.S. propane industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, producing so much that they were even had a good export market going.

grain-bin-propaneBut a perfect storm arose this winter that has caused pain at the propane tank, with shortages and prices skyrocketing to $5 a gallon before settling back down a bit. “It pretty much began in the fall with the grain harvest that was wet and having to dry down the crops,” said Scott Long, manager of propane marketing and business development for GROWMARK, who added that the wet harvest meant nearly 5 times the amount of propane was used to dry the crop than normal.

Follow that up with one of the coldest winters on record nearly everywhere in the country and propane supplies that had been abundant enough for export were quickly downsized, putting a squeeze on livestock and poultry producers. “Particularly in the broiler and turkey sector, the majority of houses are heated by propane,” said U.S. Poultry and Egg Association president John Starkey. “The bitter cold weather we’ve had throughout the poultry belt has caused shortages … so that means it’s very difficult for some folks to find propane gas right now.” [wpaudio url=”″ text=”Interview with John Starkey, U.S. Poultry and Egg”]

There have been calls for investigations into the high prices and some states have taken emergency actions to get more propane moving to areas that need it most. The good news, according to Long, is that things should be getting better soon. “I’m hoping that we hit our peak,” he said last week. “Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we’ll see quite a bit of relief.” [wpaudio url=”″ text=”Interview with Scott Long, GROWMARK”]