News

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T. Boone Pickens is selling his ranch, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The 89-year-old energy magnate, a graduate of Amarillo High School, values his Mesa Verde ranch at $250 million dollars. The ranch stretches across 65,000 acres in the northeastern Panhandle.

Colorado Feedlot Being Sued For Dead Fish

Nov 30, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

An eastern Colorado feedlot is being sued by Colorado that claims cow manure is to blame for killing thousands of fish, but the feedlot takes issue with some of the state’s claims.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, many of the over 100 feedlots in Colorado are located near waterways and environmentalists are concerned with historic rain events becoming more common, that manure will find its way into streams and groundwater.

Our Turn At This Earth: Leaving Goodland

Nov 30, 2017
Ammodramus/Wikimedia Commons

My Kansas hometown was straightforwardly named for what surrounded it: good land. I grew up on some of that good, if somewhat hillier than prime, land, about fifteen miles beyond town as the crow flew, through sunny skies over sunlit plains, up toward the Colorado and Nebraska borders.

The holidays are coming, and some of us are scrambling to make our seasonal gift lists. If you happen to have a gardening enthusiast in your life, there's a great book available that you might consider: The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst.

To compile the stories in this book, the author traveled across the US, digging deep into different cultures to unearth how they engage with the food they grow. From Native Americans to immigrants from Asia and Europe, you'll learn fascinating tales of bountiful gardens in both rural and urban regions. 

glo.texas.gov

An artifact from the birth of Texas has made its way back into official hands after 173 years.

As The Austin Chronicle reports, a map of the Republic of Texas that was purchased by a Kerrville couple at a Dallas liquidation sale has been handed over to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

The map depicts Texas in 1844, one year before the independent nation was granted statehood.

Public Domain

The State of Texas is scrambling to find a way to avoid telling nearly half a million Texas kids that they’ve lost health coverage this holiday season.

As things currently stand, hundreds of thousands of children in Texas will be informed of their lost coverage three days before Christmas.

Pixabay

If Congress doesn’t act in the next two months to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, more than 75,000 children and pregnant women will be without insurance.

As The Denver Post reports, Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP – called the Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+ in Colorado - provides coverage for children in families that bring in just enough income to be above the cutoff for Medicaid and federal funding for the program officially expired last month.

Trump Gives Roberts Rain Check On Talking NAFTA

Nov 29, 2017
U.S. Senate

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump asked Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts for a rain check when Roberts raised the agriculture industry’s concerns over NAFTA renegotiations.

Roberts told Politico that he wants to work with Trump to achieve what the president is hoping to achieve in NAFTA talks but that he also thinks it’s important that Trump knows that starting a clock on NAFTA is not the answer, referencing a strategy Trump has alluded to in which Canada and Mexico would be notified of the U.S.’s intent to withdrawal from the deal, in an attempt to force the two countries to make concessions before the six-month withdrawal window closed.

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Coloradans will soon see commercials warning about the dangers of using tobacco products.

The tobacco industry will start running the ads this week in Colorado, as Colorado Public Radio reports, due to an 11-year-old court ruling that found tobacco companies had misled the public about the dangers of cigarettes.

Goodfellow AFB

Potter County, Texas, which encompasses part of Amarillo, is considering launching a lawsuit against major drug companies.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the county hopes to win back some of the money spent in the battle against the opioid scourge. Attorney Jack Walker has asked Potter County to join in the lawsuit being filed by his Dallas firm.

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Texas farmers are concerned that if plans for two of the world’s largest agricultural firms to merge go through, it will diminish competition and cause prices for seeds and other essential products to increase.

As The Texas Tribune reports, German conglomerate Bayer, a global distributor of seeds best known for its pharmaceuticals like aspirin, hopes to buy Missouri-based agricultural firm Monsanto, which sells agricultural chemicals.

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A new scientific study asks the question: What if everyone in America suddenly went vegan and stopped eating meat, eggs, milk, and fish.

As the Highland Plains Journal reports, the authors say that in that extreme scenario – the nation’s food supply would increase by 23 percent and greenhouse gas emissions would drop by 2.6 percent. However, to ensure people are getting their vitamins and minerals, we would need to grow different crops and take supplements to meet recommended dietary guidelines.

oklegislature.gov / Public Domain

The recent Oklahoma special legislative session ended with a shocking turn of events earlier this month, when Governor Mary Fallin vetoed much of the budget bill the state legislature had devised.

Fallin herself had called the special session. The two-month long convening of lawmakers looked to be on the path to success when Fallin took out her red pen.

The move dismayed GOP leaders, who said Fallin had indicated to them that she would support the proposal. So now, what’s next for Oklahoma? 

New Tool Available To Help Farmers Understand When Temperature Inversions Occur

Nov 28, 2017
K-State

From Kansas Agland:

Risk of herbicide dicamba drift is heightened during the weather phenomena

Kansas State University is offering a new tool to help farmers assess when temperature inversions occur in their region. The information can be useful in assessing the risk for herbicide drift when applying products such as dicamba, an herbicide used to kill weeds in genetically modified soybean and cotton crops. Accidental drift of dicamba into neighboring fields damaged millions of acres of crops this year.

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Texans only have a few weeks to wait until medical marijuana becomes legal in the state. But, as The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, only Texans with the most tenacious forms of epilepsy will be allowed to purchase the drug.

Marijuana plants are currently being grown in South-Central Texas. The active ingredients in the plants will be converted to liquids and sold in droppers to epileptics before the end of this year.

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Texans went to the polls earlier this month to approve seven different constitutional amendments, many of which might have seemed to the casual voter like something that could easily have been dealt with by the State Legislature.

If you were wondering why you needed to go vote on whether sports teams should be allowed to hold charitable raffles, you weren’t alone.

Colorado One Of The Nation's Top Hemp Producers

Nov 27, 2017
U.S. Department of Agriculture

As U.S. hemp production doubled in 2017, Colorado became one of the country’s top hemp producers.

As The Cannabist reports, Colorado now grows almost 40 percent of all the hemp in the U.S. – more than twice what any other state grows.

Public Domain

The Texas Department of Public Transportation is once again considering whether to extend Interstate 27 northward from Amarillo and southward from Lubbock down to the Mexican border.

I-27 currently stretches 117 miles from Amarillo to Lubbock.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

Fracking operations in Texas have awakened sleeping fault lines, leading to a spate of unprecedented earthquakes across the northern part of the state, reports Scientific American.

The appearance of the quakes echoes recent history in Oklahoma. As with its neighbor to the north, the frequency of earthquakes in Texas has grown year by year since the introduction of wastewater injection from hydraulic fracturing operations.

Serge Melki / Wikimedia Commons

The special session of the Oklahoma Legislature ended 10 days ago, and Oklahoma Watch has published a look at some of the session’s statistics.

The session lasted 54 days, during which 194 measures were proposed. Out of those 194 bills, a total of four became law—though one of those four successful measures—the budget bill—was line-item vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin.

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Roger Sewell slowed his pickup down on a rural section of Pratt County, next to a field gleaming white.

“How’s it look?” he said with a grin, then added this good field of cotton, to be stripped in coming weeks and eventually turned into denim, was his.

Just a few years ago, it was tougher to find a cotton field in these parts. The fledgling industry had been struggling to regain its footing after peaking in acres more than a decade ago. High corn prices and 2,4-D drift were among the culprits causing farmers to shy away from cotton.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Little Spouse on the Prairie is the show where I poke affectionate fun at my husband, my kids, my home, and rural life, even though I love them all fiercely. Today’s sketch is called “Antique Man.” 

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The two largest universities in Texas own hundreds of thousands of acres across West Texas—and the University of Texas and Texas A&M are increasingly leasing that land to solar and wind operations.

As The Daily Texan reports, the two universities combined control over 2.1 million acres of land statewide. The universities have often fueled their growth in the past by leasing acreage to oil and natural gas producers.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'm serving up some Thanksgiving reflections on this year's gardening season. There has been so much for which we are thankful, including the bounty of High Plains rain since Spring.

Lauri Andler(Phantom)/Wikimedia Commons

Holidays remind many of us of either family or cultural customs that connect us to generations long past. By following old family recipes, we can savor treats our ancestors have served for decades or maybe even hundreds of years. For instance, my husband’s Swiss ancestors have been making and giving Linzer tarts at Christmas time long before they migrated from Switzerland to the United States. After analyzing my own great-grandma’s stash of old recipes, the English side of my family has baked date cookies and breads as well as Christmas puddings for eons.

Luke Clayton

Join Luke this week on the porch of his hunting cabin as he discusses making a tasty Dutch Kettle full of Chili, made from mule deer steak off of a fine buck he harvested up in Northern Colorado a couple of weeks ago, while hunting with his friends David and Regina Williams and Terry Tate.

Great tasting venison can be made from just about any type game meat, everything from wild hog to elk and just about everything in between! 

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed an executive order declaring that all school districts that spend less than 60% of their budgets on instruction should be consolidated, reports The Oklahoman.

Put more simply, a school district must be spending six out of every ten dollars to pay teachers. If not, the district will be forced to combine with a nearby district, or share budgets, maintenance, equipment, and other employees like janitors and counselors.

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West Texas oil producers are running out of places to send the growing glut of natural gas that is a byproduct of the recent oil boom in the region.

As Fox Business reports, all of the natural gas pipelines that stretch from West Texas to the gulf are basically full. And the gas can’t be sent north, because northern natural gas markets are already supplied by producers in Canada and the Rockies.

Our Turn At This Earth: Slow Migration

Nov 23, 2017
Julene Bair

They Came to Stay - that is the title of three big history volumes recording the stories of the first settlers of Sherman County, Kansas. I grew up basking in the pride of that phrase. Proof of my own family’s long past in Sherman County could be seen in the crumbled remains of the sod house where my mother’s older siblings had been born. In 1919 my grandfather built the big, broad, two-story farmhouse we lived in. Clearly, he believed that his family would stay on that land for generations to come. Why else go to all that effort?

Vlod007 / Flickr Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller unveiled a wide-reaching plan to deal with the feral hog problem in the Lone Star State. He called the scheme the “hog apocalypse,” and the plan involved scattering the state with deadly hog poison.

But the plan was scuttled when nature advocates expressed concerns about the effects the poison would have on the food chain. In the meantime, rural Texas continue to battle the hog hordes.

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