The National Turkey Federation and Minnesota Turkey Growers Association are pressing an effective coordinated solution to the widening critical shortage of propane to ensure key members of Congress have the attention of federal officials. Turkey growers have been among the first to organize on behalf of rural residents whose homes and poultry barns share farmland in the isolated Midwest and ice-covered South. Propane is their only fuel supply to keep rural families safe and their barn animals alive in bitter cold snow and ice. More than 20 states have issued disaster declarations related to the propane shortage.
"Attention has grown through the supportive efforts of Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin state association members as National Turkey Federation members effectively work with their governors and local officials," said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation (NTF). "What is now at the tipping point is the weight of federal response we are encouraging with decisive and effective solutions to move propane to areas of shortage and dire need. High demand and high price are not natural marketplace solutions for unnaturally cold conditions and bleak outlooks for supply."
Warning that residents without propane are on the verge of a potentially dangerous situation during persistent and extreme cold weather, U.S. Representatives Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) are solidifying congressional support for immediate action by President Obama. In the U.S. Senate, Energy subcommittee Chairman Al Franken (D- MN) and John Boozman (R-AR) have pressed for specific actions they have identified.
"Some of our turkey farmers are delaying shipments of young birds to their farms to save on propane, but that can only be put off for a week or two before it wreaks havoc on the schedules of both the farmers and processing companies," said Steve Olson, Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) executive director. "Farmers are working together with suppliers and other farmers to share propane. MTGA, on behalf of Minnesota's turkey farmers, are working with our Congressional delegation to ensure that propane supplies do not run out."
The coordinated effort with Congress calls for these specific, immediate steps for a sustained effort:
- Enable propane transportation through interstate pipelines, highways, rails, and waterways
- Maintain and expand federal allowances for propane suppliers to deliver increased supplies as long as temperatures and stocks remain critically low
- Identify all sensible legal authority federal agencies can use to mitigate the shortage
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. propane stocks have fallen far below the 5-year seasonal average. EIA reports that propane stocks are 25.8 million barrels lower than a year ago, a drop of 44.9 percent. As a result, in many areas, residential and wholesale propane prices have doubled, or even tripled, since October.