PROPANE PROBLEMS: Record Price Hits Farmers

Propane prices are shattering records around the Midwest.

Its hitting farmer’s pocketbooks hard. “It is a big deal,” says Bill Tentinger with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “The pork industry is a huge economic driver in the state of Iowa. And anytime a major driver in the economy in the state are adversely affected it’s going to trickle down.”

The record price of propane and the effect it will have on pork producers was the talk at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

For hog farmers this hits especially hard. Young pigs have to be kept warm with barns often kept at 85 to 90 degrees.  And that takes a lot of propane.

Last year, propane cost about a $1.39 a gallon. Wednesday, it hit $4 a gallon.

Friday, the price went up to $5 a gallon in some parts of Iowa. And when farmers’ prices go up, that cost is passed along to consumers at the supermarket.

“This is just more extreme,” says Harold Hommes with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. “We haven’t seen this before, we’re in uncharted territory as far as valuations go. I don’t know when it’s gonna end.”

Experts say there is no national shortage of propane. It’s a distribution problem getting the propane to Midwestern states.

Political leaders are stepping in to do what they can to fix it.

Texas officials agreed to waive some requirements for gas truck operators allowing more drivers on the road to bring fuel into Iowa.

Senator Charles Grassley is asking for an investigation into the skyrocketing prices.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Grassley wrote, “I request that the Federal Trade Commission remain vigilant in overseeing the propane market to prevent possible anti-competitive behavior or illegal manipulation, and to ensure that any supply shortages are not created artificially.”

2 comments

  • scott johnson

    Sen.Tom Harkin and his wife Ruth Harkin must not care.
    Ruth Harkin is on the board of directors at CononcoPhillips.

  • Troy Hendrickson

    Interesting that they should do a story on how propane affects farmers when most intelligent people know the greatest harm is to human beings who need it to heat there homes.

    Whereas farmers were relatively immune to the recession, enjoying record income and asset value and having been the recipients of a significant amount of cash welfare, many Iowans and people across the country have yet to see any real “recovery”.

    I know people who would be greatful for a weeks worth of propane just so their kids don’t freeze.

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