High Plains Public Radio

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

Gary C. Caskey / UPI

Texas crude oil production looks like it may be on the road to recovery, reports UPI.

Even so, output is still lower than last year, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. July’s daily production rose to 2.4 million barrels of oil per day. That’s three percent higher than it was two months previous.

Suchat Pederson / Suchat Pederson, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal

Since December, six major agriculture companies have agreed to merge, including Dow and Dupont. The agriculture industry has since come under criticism for the “tsunami” of huge corporate mergers.

KWCH

High-Plains beef could be making its way back to China, reports KWCH.

China, a country that boasts the world’s largest population, has announced they are ready to lift a ban on the import of U.S. Beef. The ban has been in place since 2003.

Creative Commons

Over the past year, Oklahoma saw one of biggest unemployment increases of any state, reports The Oklahoman.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Oklahoma had the second-highest unemployment rate increase for the 12 months ending in August. The state’s unemployment rate rose 0.8 percent. The statewide average now sits at 5.1 percent.

While unemployment has been growing in Oklahoma over the last year, the pace of the job loss has been slowing since March. Many of the job losses came in the energy sector.

High Plains Journal

Kansas farmers are looking to build a relationship with Cuba, reports The High-Plains/Midwest Ag Journal.

Gary C. Caskey / UPI

The Lone Star State was, for the most part, less impacted by recent economic downturns than other states. Strong recovery in the services and construction sectors helped to keep the state afloat during hard times.

Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

HPPR recently reported on a story about how, according to Census Bureau statistics, rural America is stagnating while cities are booming. But this weekend The New York Times took issue with this narrative and insisted that, in fact, income in rural America is growing, too.

The debate is about two lines in the recent Census Bureau report. According to the study, while incomes in metropolitan areas grew six percent, those in rural areas fell by two percent.

amazon.com

Amazon has plans to invest in a massive Texas wind farm, according to FuelFix.

The Seattle-based online retail giant is teaming up with Chicago’s Lincoln Clean Energy to build a 250-megawatt wind farm in Scurry County, west of Abilene. The company plans to begin operations in 2017.

The wind farm will feature 100 wind turbines which will power Amazon’s Texas’ facilities, with the leftover energy feeding into the overall state grid.

agweb.com

As the ag industry continues to consolidate into larger and larger corporations, reactions from farmers and farm-groups have been decidedly mixed.

The Daily Yonder

The economic recovery continues apace in America’s cities. Unfortunately, reports The Daily Yonder, the same can’t be said of rural America.

While median household incomes improved for metropolitan areas last year, they did not improve for rural Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, average rural residents saw their wages remain flat or even fall a bit from 2014 to 2015.

WSJ.com

E-commerce is transforming rural America in a lot of ways. In small towns, big-city conveniences are now only a click away. But, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the change comes with a price.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

The United States has unseated Germany to become the top producer of hops in the world—thanks in large part to the efforts of Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports, the U.S. has regained the title of world hop leader for the first time in decades. Over the last two years, Colorado has experienced an estimated 166 percent increase in total acres of hops planted. The acreage serves to support the state’s more than 300 craft breweries.

Rich / Creative Commons

A new study finds that, on average, Nebraska counties that receive a certain livestock-friendly designation gain more cattle farms and lose fewer hog farms than counties without it, reports The Sioux City Journal.

The designation is part of a program created by the Nebraska Legislature over ten years ago. Some rural counties are give0n the designation, and this often leads to more business.

Cynthia Raiser Jeavons / Ecology Action

Tiny, biointensive farms around the world have been showing small ag operations how they can grow far more food with newer methods than with conventional approaches, reports ensia.com.

Biointensive farming incorporates a host of methods, including transplanting and double-digging. The newer strategy also involves on-site composting, close plant spacing, use of seeds from naturally-pollinated plants, and the use of specific food-to-compost crop ratios.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images/WSJ

Apache Corp. has high hopes for a new oil field in West Texas, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The energy giant announced last week that the overlooked “Alpine High” region potentially holds the equivalent of at least two billion barrels of oil. “Alpine High,” is an area near the Davis Mountains in far west Texas.

Jorge Luis Plata / Reuters

The largest wind farm in U.S. history was just given the green light, reports Business Insider.

Wind XI is the $3.6 billion project in Iowa that will include 1,000 turbines. The operation is expected to be completed in 2019. Upon completion the wind farm will generate up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power roughly 800,000 Iowa homes.

WBAY

The total number of farms in the U.S. is decreasing. But the number of women-led farms has increased, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As WBAY reports, the percentage of primary farm operators who are women has doubled in the past 20 years. The share of farms owned by women is up to 14 percent now, according to the last census by the USDA.

Theodore Scott / Flickr Creative Commons

A battle over local power in rural Colorado could have national implications, reports the The Rural Blog.

A small electric co-operative in Montrose, Colorado, is battling its supplier over how much local power it should be able to get from sources other than the big power company. The Delta-Montrose Electric Association is one of 43 rural utilities in four states that buy power from the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

In today’s collaborative economy, communication is a valuable skill. So are traits like punctuality, problem-solving, and the ability to collaborate.

But, as The Denver Post reports, many Colorado businesses are having trouble attracting workers with these necessary “soft skills.” The trouble is largely due to Colorado’s tight labor market.  

Center for Rural Affairs

A recent environmental study got Brian Depew of the Center for Rural Affairs thinking. After mulling the info from the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, Depew penned a column on the rural development potential of transforming the energy sector.

Creative Commons

Prices for pot are plummeting in Colorado, reports Business Insider.

Last October the cost of a wholesale pound of cannabis sat at around $2,500. Since then the price has been cut by $1,000, falling to around $1,400.

nebraska.tv

Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer gathered a prestigious roundtable of telecommunication and agriculture leaders at the Nebraska State Fair this week, Nebraska.tv reports. The commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission even paid a visit.

Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

At one time Colorado was one of the nation’s biggest apple producers, on par with Washington state. Colorado’s apple farmers even won gold medals at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, back in 1904.

Jeremy Lange / New York Times

A federal court’s decision concerning a broadband internet case could have wide-ranging implications for rural Americans.

This month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld restrictive laws in North Carolina and Tennessee. These laws will halt the growth of municipal broadband networks in those states.

Matthew Mahon / The Wall Street Journal

Texas has added more wind-based capacity than any other state, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The Lone Star state still embraces its oil and gas, and Texas has garnered many headlines leading role in the fracking revolution. But the state has also quietly been becoming a renewable energy powerhouse.

Flcelloguy / Wikimedia Commons

West Texas has experienced one of its worst oil slumps ever in recent years. But this week, as the Wall Street Journal reports, there are signs that a long-awaited recovery may be coming soon.

A recent Wall Street land grab in the Permian Basin has energized the market, and sent some shares soaring. Blackstone Group LP announced last week that it has agreed to invest $1.5 billion toward drilling in West Texas.

AP photo

Colorado's job market contracted slightly in July, reports The Colorado Springs Gazette. As a result, the state’s unemployment rate inched up to 3.8 percent.

AP photo

While the U.S. at large gained workers at a healthy pace last month, unemployment in Kansas is on the rise again. Kansas shed 5,600 jobs last month, sending the unemployment rate up to 4.1 percent in July. That’s up from its level of 3.8 percent in June.

Wallethub

The U.S. is unrivaled worldwide in power and prosperity. Despite this fact, the U.S. has the ninth highest rate of child poverty among economically developed nations.

Nearly one in five American children live in poverty. The personal finance website Wallethub recently determined which states are the best and worst for underprivileged children.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr Creative Commons

A new Oklahoma liquor law is set to take effect in a little over a week. And, as KOKI reports, Oklahoma craft beer brewers are making final preparations for the shift.

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