Industry encourages communication between propane marketer, farmer

July 30, 2014 By    

Mark Leitman wasn’t sure what kind of feedback he would hear from farmers at the agricultural-focused Commodity Classic trade show earlier this year about the propane industry’s ability to meet the ag community’s needs last fall.

At the time of the show, which ran Feb. 26 to March 1, the mainstream media had been reporting on major propane supply issues for weeks. So hearing a horror story or two about propane retailers’ inability to supply the ag community probably would not have been a huge surprise.

But Leitman, the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) director of business development and marketing who specializes in agriculture, was pleasantly surprised by the ag community’s collective response to the propane industry after PERC exhibited at the San Antonio show.

“The farmers we spoke to were generally in a good place with the winter and their propane supplier,” Leitman says. “The fact that they had large tanks and fuel on hand [helped]. Some were even asked to offer their propane supply back if needed. It was such a non-issue among the people who attended the show. It was more a concern among the media who were there – they heard all the stories and the reports from angry customers.

“That said, I think the people I was speaking to were the cream of the crop [among farmers]. They were the people who talk about supply months and years out. It was probably a [different] type of customer that had more of the issues this past year.”

According to Leitman, PERC’s general message to farmers who visited its booth at the Commodity Classic was to continuously communicate with their propane supplier.

“We try to encourage communication,” he says. “We don’t want to say the word ‘contracting,’ but we want to encourage some sort of discussion between the propane marketer that works out for both of them. That way, the propane marketer can do a better job securing supply, plan their route more efficiently and pass on some savings to the farmers.”

Leitman also heard from farmers at the Commodity Classic about adding storage.

“As the farm grows or the heating load gets larger, they need to increase storage along with that so they have the right number of days of capacity,” Leitman says. “Clearly there’s an opportunity with some that are already set up for 10,000-gallon deliveries for 20,000- or 30,000-gallon tanks.”

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the senior editor of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at kyanik@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3724.

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