State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney said the state does not have any regulations covering grain storage, but he is quite concerned about the situation, “We are staying close to some of the smaller elevators that may be struggling a bit to make sure good business practices are followed.” He told HAT the real crunch on space is likely to come at the end of harvest, “Right now many grain processors have a real need for grain so they are offering some premiums. This will absorb early deliveries so the real space crunch may not come until later in the harvest.”
McKinney is also keeping a close eye on the propane situation. This year’s crop is being harvested a very high moisture levels and, as a result, will require a good deal of propane gas to dry it for storage. McKinney does not feel, however, we are in line for another propane shortage like we experienced last year, “The information I have from coops is that they are starting this harvest with more propane on hand than last year.” But he admits, if the crop is very wet, propane usage could be tremendous. He also acknowledged that we will don’t know what kind of winter we will have and what consumer demand for propane will be.
Transportation is another issue being watched closely by state and federal authorities. A shortage of trucks and trains may make it hard to move grain. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told HAT that the federal government is keeping a close eye on the situation, “We have been putting pressure on the railroads to step up their game to make sure they have adequate cars, locomotives, and personnel, and that they improve track so that product can be moved.” McKinney said, however, that federal regulations for CDL drivers licenses make it more difficult to get more trucks on the road to pick up the slack from the backup on the rails, “Getting a CDL is almost as difficult as passing the bar exam.”
McKinney admits that space will be tight and that there will be a lot of grain that gets stored on the ground this fall. But, overall, he is optimistic the system will find a place for all the grain. Yet getting all the grain moved will take time and will likely slow an already slow harvest. HAT has received reports of 2 hour delays to unload a semi of grain at some elevators.