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January 23, 2014   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
January 23, 2014

Jeremy Brown said cold weather is costing him about $1,000 worth of propane a day.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A second wave of arctic air in a month’s time has hit Alabama’s poultry farmers hard. Most depend on propane gas to keep flocks warm, and some farmers have reported problems getting tanks filled.

Late Thursday, Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency for all of Alabama. The declaration enables the governor to invoke emergency preparedness measures, including Alabama's price gouging law. It also suspends rules and regulations regarding the purchase and sale of propane gas directed by the propane gas industry, and allows propane tank owners to purchase propane from any company. To help with the supply and demand of propane gas, the state of emergency lifts federal transportation motor carrier laws and allows greater flexibility in the delivery to homes, schools and businesses.

"With life threatening cold temperatures expected once again, it is important for Alabamians to have the necessary heating resources available for survival," Bentley said. "This state of emergency will help Alabamians have an uninterrupted supply of propane gas and other home heating fuels during this period of winter weather."

Click here to read the governor's proclamation.

Lisa F. Fountain, executive director of the Alabama Propane Gas Association (APGA) said certain areas are dealing with delivery issues because of increased demand.

"I want consumers to understand there is not a shortage of propane gas,” Fountain said. “What there is, is a logistical problem with transportation."

Fountain said out-of-state trucks filling tankers at Alabama's two distribution centers have slowed delivery to in-state customers.

Alabama Farmers Federation staff, along with Fountain, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries officials and Alabama Poultry & Egg Association leaders met with members of Gov. Robert Bentley’s staff Wednesday to discuss the propane situation.

“The Alabama Propane Gas Association is working with us to help farmers whose local supplier may be unable to deliver to their farms,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan.

Farmers concerned about their supply should contact APGA at (334) 358-9590.

“Residential, commercial, poultry, schools, government offices – it doesn’t matter what it is, we are going to go out of our way to make sure we don’t run out of propane at these locations in the state of Alabama,” Fountain said.

Agriculture Commissioner John McMillian said he appreciates the cooperative spirit of those trying to help farmers.

“I am concerned about the effects the cold weather in Alabama is having on farmers and agribusinesses across the state,” McMillian said. “Our department is working with the Farmers Federation, the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and the APGA to find a solution to the immediate increased need for propane by so many producers.”

Meanwhile, farmers like Montgomery County’s Jeremy Brown continue the routine of caring for their animals. He had tanks for his six poultry houses refilled Thursday morning.

Brown received 172,000 baby chicks at his farm Monday. He said keeping the inside temperature at 90 degrees can be a challenge when it’s so cold outside.

“I think one reason this winter has seemed so bad is that the previous three winters have been pretty mild,” Brown said. “The past few years have sort of spoiled us.”

Brown said propane is the single largest input cost for his farm. The cold weather is costing him about $1,000 a day in propane, he said.

The increased demand for propane nationwide has caused prices to spike. In some areas of the Midwest, prices jumped to $4 a gallon.

Poultry is a $15 billion industry in Alabama. The state ranks 3rd nationally in broiler production and 14th in egg production.

Click here for a video news story.

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