Ag Policy Blog

Lawmakers Write FERC About Propane Shortages

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Lawmakers expressed concern to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the shortage of propane in the Midwest. They asked for FERC to ensure propane keeps moving to the Midwest to help farmers dry wet corn. (DTN file photo)

Members of Congress on Thursday wrote the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seeking to alert the commission to the need for a continued supply of propane to Midwest states.

Farmers and other rural residents across the Midwest "are facing an untenable situation with limited propane supplies in available in some areas to dry corn coming off the field," wrote the 31 House members from both parties who signed the letter.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, spearheaded the letter.

"We hope to avoid a disastrous situation with cold temperatures and snow in the forecast spiking demand for residential deliveries just as farmers are needing to heat poultry and livestock barns and crop farmers are facing one of their most frustrating harvest seasons in years," lawmakers explained in the letter to Neil Chatterjee, chairman of FERC.

The House members noted, "Farmers are calling our offices looking for answers about what can be done. Those who are lucky enough to have crops to harvest this year are now struggling with drying a wet corn crop. Wet corn put in storage can start to spoil in as little as three days. There are reports that grain elevators are having to stop the delivery of corn from farmers and storing corn on the ground because they're running short of propane as well."

A full copy of the letter and lawmakers who signed it can be found at…

USDA Defers Premium Interest

USDA announced Thursday that the Risk Management Agency will continue deferring accrual of interest for 2019 crop insurance premiums.

The department announces the decision as a way to help farmers affected by extreme weather in 2019. Specifically, USDA, stated, interest will be deferred on 2019 crop year insurance premiums to the earlier of the applicable termination date or January 31, 2020, for all policies with a premium billing date of August 15, 2019.

This extension is necessary since harvest progress has been very delayed and crop insurance claims are not typically settled until harvest is complete, squeezing cash flow even further. Bill Northey, USDA's Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, made the announcement at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters' conference in Kansas City.

USDA had previously announced a deferral to November 30, 2019, providing producers with an additional two months from the traditional September 30 date. With today's announcement, producers will have until January 31, 2020, to pay the 2019 premium without accruing interest. For any premium that is not paid by the new deadline, interest will accrue consistent with the terms of the policy.

Farmers have reported they were prevented from planting on nearly 20 million acres, a modern record. Indemnities from crop insurance have reached almost $6 billion this year, with more than $3.9 billion of that going to producers unable to plant because of flooding or excess moisture, USDA stated.

As part of disaster aid, USDA included "top-up" payments to farmers for prevented planting claims that have added $580 million in payments to farmers.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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