Propane shortage caused by strike hurting Central Lambton farmers

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Farmers in Central Lambton are taking another hit in this already difficult year – propane shortages.

Rail conductors at CN Rail walked off the job this week after failing to reach an agreement – safety issues are the main concern in the strike.

Propane is shipped by rail in Canada and for many farmers, it is the fuel used to dry grain. Emery Huszka, director of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, says about half the farmers in the province need propane to dry grain, however all – including those in Lambton – have been told their shipments won’t be coming. Any available propane goes to heat homes first.

Even if the strike was settled today, Huszka says it could take three to four week for farmers to begin getting propane shipments again.

“In the 3 to 4 weeks between that, we could get horrific storms and you cannot combine snow,” he says.

Huszka says many local farmers thought propane would continue to be available in Lambton because Sarnia is one of the main distribution points for Eastern Canada for the fuel. But today, while the Grain Farmer’s met to talk about the crisis, members were receiving letters saying their shipments were being suspended.

Huszka says the grain farmers are urging CN and the Teamsters to get back to the bargaining table to solve the dispute.

The federal government could deem the service essential and send the rail workers back to work, however the house isn’t scheduled to begin sitting until Dec. 5.