HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Agriculture:
crop production
crop irrigation
livestock production
dairy production
research & development

Energy
oil & gas production
wind energy
biofuels production
food processing
manufacturing

Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
air service
highways
internet service

Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

Entrepreneurship:
small business development
technology application
innovation

In the Modern Workplace, It Pays to Be a People Person

Aug 28, 2015
Victor1558 / Flickr Creative Commons

The nature of the American workplace is shifting, and the change looks to be more beneficial for females than males. A recent article on the blog FiveThirtyEight.com noted that people skills are increasingly important in the modern world. While hard skills such as math and engineering are still valued, communicating clearly has never been more important. And women appear to be capitalizing on the shift.

As Beef Prices Rise, Rustlers Return

Aug 21, 2015
Eric Gay / Associated Press

In regional news, cattle prices are at a record high. And with high prices comes the rise of an old concern in ranching: rustling. Through July this year, The Texas Rangers have worked nearly 400 theft cases, reports The Washington Post. Cases of rustling continue to rise, though stealing cattle is a felony.

Kansas Wheat Farmers May Consider Durum in Future

Aug 20, 2015
Kansas Agland

Kansas has long been considered the nation’s breadbasket. That’s because of its hard red winter wheat production. But one Kansas crop breeder is looking to turn the state into America’s pasta bowl. For the past 17 years, Ray Brengman has been working  to breed a new type of wheat called winter durum, used in pasta. In a state where water is increasingly scarce, Brengman thinks durum has a bright future, reports Kansas Agland.

Pork Producers to Label Pigs Fed Muscle Drug

Aug 19, 2015
Will Kincaid / AP

Soon High Plains shoppers will see a new phrase when shopping for pork, reports Prairie Public News. The phrase, which may be confusing to most, is: "Produced without the use of ractopamine."  While ractopamine may not have much name recognition, it’s a huge deal in the pork industry.  Most pigs in America are given the drug, which is similar to adrenaline. The pigs put on more muscle, and the drug can add two to three dollars of income per pig.

As Tyson Foods to Cut 400 Jobs

Aug 19, 2015
IBP

As cattle supplies dwindle, Tyson Foods is permanently closing its plant in Denison, Iowa. The plant closing will result in a loss of 400 jobs to the area, says Omaha’s KETV. Tyson said it’s reducing its beef production due to a continued lack of available cattle. The company said while it plans to close the plant, it will keep the rendering operation open. Workers impacted by the cuts are being offered work at other Tyson plants. The beef plant opened in 1961.

Nationwide, Rural Jobs Continue to Gain Ground

Aug 12, 2015
Daily Yonder

Job rates in the rural corners of the US continue to rebound, according to the The Daily Yonder. However, while the picture was generally rosy in the nation at large, the Panhandle of Texas and the state of Kansas still saw job losses and a rise in the unemployment rate.

Vassilis Michalopoulos / Flickr Creative Commons

US rural residents received some good news this week. The Rural Blog reports that the network communications company Windstream has received $175 million to support internet use in the countryside. The money will go to support broadband for customers in 17 states, among them Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. The broadband support will allow rural customers to access fast internet speeds in areas where service might otherwise be prohibitive.

New Study Shows Kansas Sales Tax Hurting Rural Grocers

Aug 10, 2015
Michael Cannon / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute

A group pushing for elimination of the sales tax on groceries in Kansas is touting a new study.

The Wichita State University study shows that even before it was raised last month from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, the statewide sales tax was costing rural grocers an average of about $18,000 a year in lost sales.

Colorado Experiencing Marijuana Boom

Aug 7, 2015
Kevin Moloney / The Guardian

Colorado’s fortunes have skyrocketed since recreational marijuana became legal 18 months ago. Some observers have called the boom a “gold rush,” reports the British newspaper The Guardian. Denver now has four dispensaries for every Starbucks, and the number is growing.

Monsanto Hopes to Purchase Pesticide Behemoth

Aug 5, 2015
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A possible deal was announced this week that could have a lasting impact on American farmers, reports Harvest Public Media. The monolithic agricultural company Monsanto has proposed a deal to purchase the world’s largest pesticide company, Syngenta. Monsanto has said that it aims to find new ways to combine chemicals and biotech crops. In an effort to expand, the company has been recently been buying up a lot of tech companies.

The Clean Power Plan tells each state how much carbon emission has to be reduced, but the state can decide how to meet the target. How that's going to work in Kansas is yet to be decided.

Laughing Squid / Creative Commons

The expanding marijuana industry in Colorado may have hit a financial roadblock, reports The New York Times. Federal banking officials have rejected an application from The Fourth Corner Credit Union in Denver, which serves Colorado’s pot industry.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Here’s a quiz: the nation’s most inland seaport exists in what state? There are pretty good odds you didn’t guess Oklahoma, but in fact the Port of Catoosa handles two and a half million tons of wheat, fertilizer, steel, and manufacturing goods each year.

From outside of Tulsa, these resources head down the Verdigris River, to the Arkansas River, then east to the Mississippi and onward to Pittsburgh and Chicago. From there, these goods can move up through the great lakes to New York, Europe, or anywhere in the world.

Data Breach May Affect Thousands of Kansans

Jul 29, 2015
Jfcherry / Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Company that provides online patient portal says hackers gained access to electronic health records.

Thousands of Kansans soon will be receiving letters notifying them that their electronic health records may have been compromised.

Matt Brooks / NET News

From Harvest Public Media:

Farmers count on chemical herbicides to keep their fields weed-free. But an international panel of scientists who studied two of the most heavily used farm chemicals to determine whether they could cause cancer, said exposure to weed-killing chemicals could come at a cost. 

For Kansas Crops, the Return of an Unwelcome Disease

Jul 22, 2015
C.K. Hartman / Flickr Creative Commons

For the first time since the Dust Bowl, wheat flag smut has returned to Kansas wheat fields, reports Kansas AgLand.

While this rare fungal disease is not a threat to humans or animals, it can reduce yields.  That’s why some countries that trade with the US place restrictions on buying wheat from areas affected by the disease.

Farmers Upset Over New EPA Ethanol Requirements

Jul 20, 2015
Brandi Korte / Flickr Creative Commons

The EPA proposal to reduce ethanol requirements has raised the hackles of Kansas farmers, reports Kansas AgLand. Nearly 300 farmers rallied on Capitol Hill Wednesday to protest the measure, which would cut renewable fuel requirements by almost 4 billion gallons this year, and 5 billion next year.

Stephanie Paige / Ogburn/KUNC

From Harvest Public Media:

Food companies the world over are paying close attention to the groundswell of support for food transparency, the “know where your food comes from” movement.

JBS, the largest meat producer in the world, is beginning to take notice as well.

Kansas could effectively lose Amtrak service if one section of the track in Kansas City isn't updated. The piece is owned by the Kansas City Terminal. Amtrak has a federal mandate to install positive train control across its tracks by December of 2015. The line runs daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, serves 33 cities, six in Kansas. They are Dodge City, Garden City, Hutchinson, Newton, Topeka, and Lawrence.

Harry Pears / Creative Commons

More wind power is headed to the High Plains. A Spanish steel company has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in the Texas panhandle, according to the Houston Chronicle. GRI Renewable Industries said it intends to build a wind tower plant in Amarillo that would employ 300 people and build 400 towers a year.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed today on new quotas for the amount of renewable fuels blended in to our gasoline. The E-P-A plan would increase the total volume of renewable fuels at gas pumps. But it actually cuts the amount of ethanol made from corn.

In an ironic twist of fate, the building that once housed the seat of law and order is becoming the very thing that took some to face the judge In an ironic twist of fate, a distillery will call the courthouse home. The Dodge City Courthouse and old city hall is being renovated to become Boot Hill Distillery. Hays Kelman is a co-owner. He says whiskey will be the main attraction, but it takes a few years to age, so the business will also produce vodka, gin, white whiskey and red eye whiskey. Kelman is partners with his father and Chris Holovach. They’ll be using grain from their farms in Haskell and Scott Counties. Kelman says they want to keep everything as local as possible. A fall opening is planned.

More rain and less warmth than normal is both a blessing and challenge to farmers. About 60 percent of corn is in the ground in the Texas Panhandle. Jourdan Bell is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agronomist. He says he’s concerned about fungal disease. Some seed put in the ground hasn’t germinated, and in saturated conditions you can see degradation and possible infection. Bell also says if the corn’s not planted by early May, there can be some pretty hefty yield degradation. That’s led to farmers considering planting grain sorghum. The moisture’s has a mixed impact on wheat. Bell says there’s been a lot of hail damage and very heavy disease pressure, but he thinks farmers will see a considerable boost in yields.

There’s a new eye in the sky in the Texas Panhandle, and it’s helping monitor the electric lines. Southwestern Public Service is exploring the use of drones. SPS’s parent company, Xcel Energy, has permission to use the technology. Wes Reeves is the spokesman for SPS. He says there are some clear advantages of drone use in the rough panhandle terrain. Reeves says air assessment also has distinct advantages in disasters like the 2014 Fritch wildfire. The Federal Aviation Administration approved Xcel’s request earlier this month. The company will use the drones to survey transmission and distribution lines, power plants, renewable energy facilities, substations, and natural gas pipelines it has in other regions.

You’ve probably heard of a stud bull before.. the favored male who mates with the herd. But a stud dame? They exist and the demand for their offspring is growing. Just how would you maximize the number of calves a supercow can produce? Some ranchers are using a process called embryo transfer, or E.T. that’s where the super cow is given hormones so she produces multiple eggs, then she’s bred, and the fertilized eggs are harvested. The embryos are implanted in less valuable cows who carry them to birth.

MU Extension

Last summer was a bad one for pinkeye in this part of the country.  The million dollar question is can anything be done to prevent it this summer?  The High Plains Journal reports there are vaccination programs, but there are also numerous strains of the disease.

Certified Angus Beef

We’ve all heard the phrase it takes a village to raise a child.  The same is true with exporting beef.  From logistics to linguistics, the teams working to export beef add well beyond $300 to the value of each head of cattle annually reports the High Plains Journal.

Here’s a glimpse at the role of three people making it happen.

Cattle prices and the possibility of a break in the drought has a Texas Panhandle family changing gears reports the Wall Street Journal. Rex McCloy and his two sons used to focus on growing cotton, corn, wheat, and soybeans. Now the family is betting the recent break in drought conditions will continue, and they’re investing in cattle. McCloy says three years ago there wasn't enough grass to feed a goat, let alone a cow. Now the family is building up the herd to capitalize on high cattle prices and lower feed costs.

Quentin Hope

Regional crude oil and natural gas prices are broadcast every weekday on HPPR during Morning Edition at 5:50, 6:32, 7:32 and 8:32 central time.  The report is compiled and voiced by Wayne Hughes of Amarillo, TX.

Complete current market information from the sources used in the regional summary report can be found at these sites:

All fields crude oil from Phillips 66.

Tyson Foods is the country's largest poultry producer. The company will stop feeding its chickens human antibiotics. Farmers raising livestock often add low-level antibiotics in an effort to treat disease, prevent disease from spreading, and also to help animals grow more quickly.

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