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Planning for a propane shortage

Last season’s propane shortage was a challenge for many farmers. The shortage was caused by a combination of sub-zero temperatures, record propane exports, and the closing of the Cochin Pipeline. 

To better prepare for another propane shortage, The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) is encouraging farmers to plan ahead for their propane needs.

“It’s absolutely essential that farmers plan ahead for their propane needs,” said MCGA President Ryan Buck. “There’s a good chance that the days of having propane delivered as you need it during harvest – something farmers had been used to before last year – are over for the foreseeable future.”

The Cochin Pipeline that formerly supplied 36 percent of Minnesota’s propane was out of service for several weeks last winter and now carries oil from Canada’s tar sands instead of propane.

Because of this, rail demand for propane delivery has also spiked dramatically. Some estimates have the number of rail cars necessary to meet Minnesota’s propane needs rising from 200 to 4,200 per year after the re-routing of the Cochin Pipeline.

Additionally, more propane is being exported to other countries than ever before. According to the Energy Information Administration, propane exports rose to 410,000 barrels per day in November, the highest ever, and remained high throughout the winter months.

MCGA also submitted a letter asking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to temporarily vary its rules and allow several proposed large propane storage units to be built to help increase storage capacity and better meet demand.

MCGA has almost 7,000 members and represents the interests of Minnesota’s 25,000 corn farmers. For more information, go to, or