GROWMARK/FS System Responding to Propane Issues

Carrie Muehling

The past six weeks have brought rolling outages of propane supply at pipeline terminals across the Midwest. A number of factors are contributing to propane shortages this year during a critical time for farmers.

“With delayed planting and, subsequently, delayed harvest, as well as high moisture corn, the demand has really been significantly more than we would have seen in the past, and at a later date,” said Carol Kitchen, Vice President of Energy and Logistics at GROWMARK. “And, we’re also starting to layer over top of the home heat season, or confinement livestock season, so it has really put a lot of pressure on the propane infrastructure across the Midwest.”

Kitchen said GROWMARK has reached out to points further away than ever before to help with propane supply this year, and continues to add new supply points to the cooperative’s network. GROWMARK’s recent acquisition of a terminal at Ft. Madison, Iowa, will help in the long run, although Kitchen said it will take some time to build supply there and won’t have much of an immediate impact on the current situation.

She said the situation is improving, although there are localized markets that continue to face challenges. The addition of the CN Rail strike in Canada further complicates movement of supply to the Upper Midwest and some Midwestern areas as a significant supply comes into those regions from western Canada. Kitchen praised the industry for serving farmers well during this year’s difficult circumstances.

“In our organization, in our local co-ops, and really across the industry, people have worked really hard to get service to customers, knowing that they’re in a tough situation. It’s stressful for everybody and we just want to recognize the hard work that’s been done to help farmers get through a very tough fall,” she said.

Listen to Carrie interview with Carol here: Interview with Carol Kitchen, GROWMARK