Diesel Supplies Running Short in Many Parts of Rural America


Diesel supplies in the U.S. are becoming a concern across the country and especially in rural America.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, has been talking to farmers in different parts of the country. He says diesel supplies in some areas are at day-to-day levels.

“The consensus I’ve been hearing is there’s widespread concern about diesel costs. But then, in certain pockets of the country where it’s more acute than others, there’s a real and growing concern about the availability of diesel, and there are a lot of reasons for that. The war in Ukraine has certainly contributed to that. The fact that we haven’t had additional refining capacity that’s been built, but yet, when you’ve got a demand for diesel that has remained quite robust throughout the pandemic and to this day, you get into this supply, demand kind of tightening, and so that’s certainly part of it as well. The inland waterway system transports, in addition to grain and things like fertilizer and aggregates, but also transports a lot of energy products, including petroleum products, so that’s certainly contributing to it as well. So, there are a number of things that are all kind of at play.”

Diesel shortages are worse depending on location according to Steenhoek.

“We’ve got a real tightening here and, again, it’s not at a very opportune time, particularly in a lot of the Northeast parts of the United States. They still utilize home heating oil, and that will be a further demand for things like diesel fuel, so it’s something that’s a real concern. And for farmers, there are certain pockets, I’m hearing, where supplies are more limited or scarce. I had a couple of farmers tell me that the availability is day-to-day, but then, in other areas of the country, they’ve been able to get their supplies. But I think, overall, this is something that is going to be an emerging concern in this country.”

The biggest shortages are in the Southeast.

“I’m hearing that the southeastern quadrant of the United States is where the problems are more pronounced, and that includes areas like Tennessee and further into the southeast. I’m hearing some concerns from farmers who are located close to the inland waterway system, and some of the supplies do occur via barges, so that’s another industry that’s impacted by the challenges confronting our inland waterway system. In those areas that are further removed from the river and more in the Midwest and the northwestern part of the Midwest, I’m hearing fewer concerns about getting diesel supply. I think it depends on which part of the country you’re in. I do think that this is a trend that we’re going to be hearing more of.”