A day after hearing from farmers during a visit to northern Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has issued an executive order easing regulations on motor carriers and drivers in an effort to assist farmers during a wet and cold harvest season.
“This has been a stressful year for Minnesota farmers. The recent wet weather has only exacerbated these challenges to create the unprecedented crisis we now face, with crops sitting unharvested in soaked fields and truckloads of product that can’t be brought to market,” Gov. Walz said. “To our farmers: I am listening. This Executive Order will help farms get the fuel they need, and our team will continue to look into actions we can take to support our agricultural industry through these catastrophic conditions.”
A wet spring, coupled with a cold and wet fall, has significantly delayed the corn and soybean harvest throughout Minnesota. Farmers in Minnesota and neighboring states have been impacted by the rain and the early onset of cold weather which will result in harvest activities happening simultaneously throughout the region.
The later than average corn harvest and higher moisture content has created a greater demand for propane used for drying. In addition to propane and liquid fuels being used for crop harvesting purposes, the circumstances are compounded and the demand for these products is increased by the start of the agricultural livestock heating season as well as the needs created by the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program.
Drivers are experiencing unusually long wait times at terminals, and some supply points are reporting a decrease in the availability of product, which will require drivers to travel further distances to obtain product for marketers and farmers.
Although steps have been taken in an effort to mitigate the impacts of this situation, such as prefilling supply tanks, there will still be an overwhelming demand prompting a need for temporary relief from the hours of service requirements.
The order remains in effect for 30 days or until direct assistance has ended.
Mike Skaug, vice president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA), farms in Polk County in northwest Minnesota, says growers in his area will appreciate Walz’s declaration.
“It’s been a difficult growing season in 2019, to say the least,” Skaug says. “We are grateful to the governor for hearing our concerns and taking action with this executive order. “