Propane prices hurt local farmers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

As prices of propane have risen this winter, many local farmers are struggling to keep their chickens warm.

Angela and Wa Yang own 10 chicken houses outside of Wheaton. As poultry is their only source of income, the Yangs are among those who are most affected by the price hike.

"When we get baby chicks, and they've just hatched, they have to have heat to keep warm," Angela Yang said. "We can't afford the price. We've had to postpone getting baby chickens."

The Yangs moved to southwest Missouri in 2002 and reported that they have never seen the prices so high. To keep their farm going, they must keep 12 tanks filled.

"We've heard rumors, but we don't know why it is so high, and we don't know what to do," Yang said.

With the cost of propane going from $3.39 per gallon to $5.59 per gallon over the past two weeks, and each tank for a poultry farm averaging nearly 1,000 gallons in size, the cost is hurting poultry farmers, who uses 200-300 gallons per day in cold weather to heat just one chicken house.

According to Mark Still, owner of HIVU Propane in Cassville, many of the local farmers who rely on propane for heat are choosing to shut down or delay taking the birds in cold weather.

Farmers must heat the houses not only to protect the chickens, but to meet laws set by animal welfare.

According to Still, prices have been changing daily, and he encourages people to conserve as much as they can.

"We hope that something will happen to help the poultry farmers," Wa Yang said. "Propane was just 65 cents per gallon when we moved here. Now, we don't make enough money to pay for it."

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