Propane haulers in Wisconsin can put in more work hours to meet demands for the fuel as Gov. Scott Walker declares a state of emergency because of the strain on current propane supply pipelines.
In an executive order, Walker cited the high demand for propane to dry corn and the beginning of its use for home heating in rural areas as reasons for the emergency declaration and shortage of propane.
George Koepp, UW-Extension Columbia County agriculture agent, said farmers in rural areas typically can’t get any fuel other than propane to dry their corn harvest and corn crops are the only crops where dryers are used.
The drying done in bins prevents mold from forming on the corn while it’s in storage and without propane, a farmer’s operations can be held up.
Although Koepp said he hasn’t heard farmers complain that they aren’t able to get the heating fuel, Walker’s executive order points to a need.
It states “the corn harvest in Wisconsin is approximately 30 percent complete and crops are coming in at very high moisture levels requiring large amounts of propane for drying.”
The order also states that the usual, close-proximity locations from where propane haulers get their supplies are on short supply, using a slow tactic of filling up with propane from directly off the pipeline or are out of propane altogether, so haulers have to drive to North Carolina, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri to get the product.
Usually propane in Wisconsin comes from terminals in Pine Bend, Inver Grove Heights, Rosemount, Minn., Janesville, Superior, Owen and Junction City, Rapid River, Mich., and Rockford, Ill., according to Walker’s order.
“There’s a big demand for that product right now, as farmers have their combines out in the field harvesting their corn trying to get it dried down and into storage before the weather turns ugly on us, because it will,” Koepp said.
Koepp emphasized the importance of corn for livestock, food and the two ethanol plants in the area.
“It’s big business,” he said.
The order states the emergency declaration was made with approval from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and is in effect for 13 days from Oct. 25 until Nov. 7.