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

CC0 Creative Commons

The unemployment rate in Texas reached a record low last month, while the Lone Star State’s neighbor to the north is also approaching a record rate of employment.

Demonstrators held a protest in Wichita on Saturday against a proposal to bring a Tyson poultry complex to Sedgwick County.

CCO Creative Commons

A large solar project in Texas has been put on hold and will likely be canceled if the Trump administration goes ahead with imposing tariffs on cheaper panels made in China.

As KUT reports, a 100-megawatt solar farm was being planned outside of Fort Stockton, Texas that would have brought 300 to 400 people at its peak but a threat of tariffs on Chinese solar panel imports would likely make the project too costly to pursue because solar panels account for about 40 percent of the cost of a solar plant.

Mitch Ames / Wikimedia Commons

The recent resurgence of Texas oil markets is causing some Texas prison guards to leave their jobs for the more lucrative work in the oilfields.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, in the last year alone, the state prison system has seen a remarkable 28 percent turnover rate.

CC0 Creative Commons

In recent months, the rent-to-own furniture industry has gained attention in Texas. State officials have accused the industry, and especially the rent-to-own behemoth Rent-A-Center, of using deceptive and abusive practices against customers.

BLM/Public Domain

A group of small oil and gas producers in Oklahoma has grown frustrated with the lack of progress in the Sooner State. In their view, the state Legislature has been negligent by failing to raise taxes for necessary state business like teacher pay raises. In response the group, known as Restore Oklahoma Now Inc., has announced its plan to try to bring the matter to voters.

Fall Harvest Wrapping Up In Kansas

Nov 7, 2017
CCO Public Domain

As of the end of October, autumn’s harvest in Kansas began winding down.

As Kansas Agland reports, farmers reported a mixture of yields, depending on the location and the amount of moisture.

Luke Clayton

November marks the beginning of trophy blue catfish season on many lakes. Guide David Hanson says about the time the whitetail deer begin their annual rut, the big blue catfish turn on at Lake Tawakoni, where he has been fishing and guiding for most of his life.

CCO Creative Commons

INMAN - It was over a bowl of popcorn on a winter evening last year that McPherson County farmer Dwight Baldwin began thinking of an alternative.

He had recently sifted through one of his latest farm publications, which touted alternative crops. However, like most of his neighbors, he and his son, Adam, have grown wheat, milo, soybeans and corn on their ground near Inman. Yet the farm economy centered around those traditional crops was struggling.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Farmers, lured by the promise of an easy, steady paycheck by raising chickens are told if they just keep the birds healthy, industrial poultry processors will take care of the rest.

As The Texas Observer reports, however, after growers sign an exclusive contract to build several 24,000-square-foot chicken houses, the companies that process the poultry sometimes require expensive improvements be made to the chicken houses that many growers can’t afford.

I Love Dairy Queen! / Wikimedia Commons

Several small towns in the Texas Panhandle may soon be losing a storied part of West Texas culture.

As KAMR reports, approximately 70 Dairy Queens across Texas and New Mexico may soon close due to bankruptcy.

The parent company of the DQs, Vasari LLC, has indicated that it is scrambling to find a way to keep the fast food restaurants in business. While some locations will be closed, others have a chance of being sold and staying in business.

Immigration And Trade Essential To Kansas Economy

Oct 30, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

Immigration and trade are essential aspects of the Kansas economy.

That was the consensus at the Kansas Economic Policy Conference held last week at the University of Kansas.

CC0 Creative Commons

The Lone Star State has been attracting droves of new Texans each year, newcomers who are attracted to the state’s low tax rates and plentiful sunshine. Meanwhile, Texas has a lower percentage of residents moving away than any other state.

CC0 Creative Commons

Three more coal-powered plants in Texas will be shutting down soon.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, this development means that Texas will likely be getting more of its power from wind than from traditional coal plants. The Trump administration has rallied to try and save coal operations, standing by its stance that coal is the victim of efforts by environmental activists to close the plants. In fact, the closures of coal facilities began a decade ago, after the price of natural gas plummeted.

CCO Public Domain

Bernie Thiel, like many agricultural producers across the High Plains, has had to lower the acreage he plants to squash because of a lack of labor.

CC0 Creative Commons

New job numbers were released this week for Oklahoma and Texas, and things appear to be moving along in both states at a steady clip.

As The Oklahoman reports, Oklahoma's unemployment rate in September remained unchanged at 4.5 percent. State employment officials say Oklahoma is showing especially strong movement in the private sector. One year ago, the jobless rate in the Sooner State was half a point higher, at five percent.

New Ag Guestworker Program Legislation Headed To US House

Oct 25, 2017

A bill to overhaul the federal agricultural guestworker program cleared its first hurdle Wednesday and is headed to the full U.S. House.

The Republican-majority House Judiciary Committee passed the bill 17-16 after two days of debate and over the objections of many Democrats. It’s likely to clear the House, though its future in the Senate is unclear.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

Colby Kansas Farmer Lon Frahm is featured in a video from the Wall Street Journal about the future of farming in the U.S.

Frahm says technology has allowed him to do more farming with the same amount of people – nine to be exact, who help him farm 30,000 acres of corn and wheat. Thirty years ago, Frahm had 6,000 acres and four employees.

Creative Commons

In September, Kansas’s unemployment dropped slightly and Colorado’s inched up slightly.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, the jobless rate in Kansas dropped to 3.8 percent in September.

According to the Kansas Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was about a tenth higher in August.

Reynaldo Leal / The Texas Tribune

From The Texas Tribune:

The president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas told business leaders that unemployment and education should be viewed apolitically to avoid risking Texas and the rest of the country becoming less competitive.

Rutlo / Flickr Creative Commons

Amazon’s largest wind farm to date is up and running in West Texas, reports Engadget.com.

Known as Amazon Wind Farm Texas, the wind energy operation is located in Scurry County, near Snyder, Texas.

The entire operation includes over 100 turbines and will generate enough clean energy to power more than 330,000 homes. Amazon plans to take whatever energy it needs from the farm, then sell the rest to the state’s energy users.

USDA Won't Implement Tougher Meatpacker Rules

Oct 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t go forward with rules meant to make it easier for small livestock producers to report possible unfair treatment.

The agency’s decision on the proposal, which came at the tail end of the Obama administration, was announced Tuesday and met with mixed response.

Updated Wednesday at 10:34 p.m.

Tyson Foods is considering Sedgwick County and two other locations in Kansas as possible sites for a new $320 million poultry processing complex.

Gobierno de Chile / Wikimedia Commons

Evidence is mounting that President Donald Trump’s decision to back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is taking a heavy economic toll on rural America, reports POLITICO.

U.S. farmers and meat producers had been looking forward to seeing Asian markets opened up to their products. Instead, countries like Japan have taken their business elsewhere, seeking to purchase meats, grains and fruits from countries with lower tariffs.

Bayer AG announced the sale of a large part of its agribusiness on Friday. The deal will move the company closer to yet another big deal.

Bayer AG says it sold part of its crop science division to BASF for $7 billion.

The sale includes Bayer’s field crop seed and pesticide businesses.

Bayer says the move is “an active approach” to help it win regulatory approval for its proposed buyout of Monsanto.

That $66 billion deal will merge two of the world’s largest agribusinesses.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

Two weeks ago, the coal industry got a bit of good news when former Texas governor and current U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested that failing coal plants be subsidized by United States taxpayers.

But coal's reprieve from bad news was short-lived, as last week the energy giant Luminant announced it would shut down three coal-fired power plants early next year.

Michael Barera

The Texas Legislature’s controversial “bathroom bill” generated a strong backlash among the business community this year. The proposal was ultimately stopped, largely due to the moderate leadership of House Speaker Joe Straus.

Now, as The Texas Tribune reports, Straus is putting together a committee to make sure Texas is smart about attracting new companies going forward.

Harry Wood / Wikimedia Commons

The Mexican government has raised the amount of ethanol allowed in a gallon of gasoline, in a move that could have a big effect on the oil and corn producers of the High Plains.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, Mexico has upped the allowable percentage of ethanol from 5.8 percent to 10 percent, which is also the level currently allowed in the U.S. Now, some of the world's biggest biofuels companies are jockeying for a position within what is the world's fourth largest gasoline market.

OTTO/ANHEUSER-BUSCH

Approximately 1.8 million Americans, primarily men, drive trucks for a living, but with companies like Google eyeing automated trucking, those jobs could soon be a thing of the past.

As The Guardian reports, automated vehicles are projected to save billions but cost millions of jobs, as Google, Uber, Tesla and major truck manufacturers look to automate the trucking industry.

At the very least, truck drivers could be downgraded to co-pilots, once automation hits the industry.

Iowa’s secretary of agriculture is one step closer to a new post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bill Northey appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He answered questions about a variety of farm-support and conservation programs he would oversee as undersecretary from the farm and foreign agricultural services.

Pages