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

Business is booming in Colorado, reports The Prowers Journal. According to a new report, in the first three months of the year business formation has rebounded. Colorado employment is also projected to expand over the next two quarters. The news was a welcome relief after two consecutive quarters of business decline.

Prowers Journal

The employment situation in Colorado continues to boom, reports The Prowers Journal. Nonfarm payroll jobs increased by almost six thousand last month. That brings the total for the state up to well over two-and-a-half million jobs. At the same time, the unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point to 2.9 percent—far below the national average.

Rural Blog

The rural grocery store crisis in Minnesota has become the focus of rural communities across the country, who see themselves in the woes of the Land of a Thousand Lakes. According to a recent survey, more than a third of rural Minnesota grocery store owners don't expect to be in business in five years. The problem?

Building fence facts

Apr 20, 2016
Deb Farris / KAKE

From Kansas Agland:

Last week, livestock markets in Pratt and Reno counties helped raise $120,000 by auctioning off a donated heifer and two steer calves in an effort to raise funds to aid ranchers with wildfire losses in Reno, Harvey, Barber and Comanche counties.

Eric Kounce / Wikimedia Commons

For the first time in 12 years, Texas job creation has been lagging behind the rest of the nation. The numbers come from a new study by the Austin non-profit Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. “The ‘Texas Miracle,’ as our state’s nation-leading economic engine has been dubbed, is currently on ice,” said Dale Craymer, the author of the report.

Ibraheem Al Omari / Reuters

Oil prices are set to plunge again, reports quartz.com. Oil producers gathered in Doha this weekend in an attempt to freeze production in the glutted crude oil market. With the news of the proposed production freeze, oil prices had recently soared by more than 30%. But the various oil interests failed to reach an agreement.

photographybanzai / Flickr Creative Commons

When it comes to income inequality between the sexes, Oklahoma has one of the worst pay gaps in the nation, reports the Tulsa World. Full-time working women in Oklahoma earn 73 cents for every dollar a man earns. That’s six cents less per dollar than the national average. The gap in Oklahoma adds up to over six billion dollars a year that women would receive if they were paid equally.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Midwest farmers are expected to plant a huge corn crop this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts farmers will plant nearly 94 million acres of corn this season. That’s up 6 percent from last year’s planted acreage and would be the third-highest planted acreage in the U.S. since the 1940s.

Stuart Jenner / Thinkstock

According to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute, if the United States worked harder to make the genders more equal, it could advance its gross domestic product by trillions of dollars.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Some of the most important medicines doctors prescribe to fight infections are losing effectiveness and the Obama Administration is calling on farmers to help turn the tide against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A recent report by the president’s advisors on antibiotic resistance charts some progress but also left some critics urging for more immediate action.

tau0.wordpress.com

As the oil recession continues, some are beginning to wonder if this setback could turn into a full-fledged oil bust like the one that deeply wounded many Texas small-town economies. Communities across the western part of the Lone Star State are seeing businesses shutter as jobs are cut and production is slashed. As the Texas Observer reports, towns in the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale regions are seeing unemployment rates rise.

Calvin Mattheis / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

It is evident from the sweeping acres of sorghum, wheat and pastures of cattle, the irrigated circles that can be seen from the sky, and from the scenic overlook at Dodge City where thousands of cattle are fattening:

Kansas’ backbone is agriculture.

technologyreview.com

Sometimes the modern world presents you with problems you couldn’t have anticipated. Texas is facing one such dilemma. It seems, according to MIT Technology Review, that the Lone Star State has too much renewable energy. Or perhaps “too much too soon” is a better way to put it.

Pueblo Chieftain

The US Department of Agriculture announced a new program last week that will connect food hubs with area businesses and institutions in an attempt to connect producers and markets. That’s great news for producers in Pueblo, Colorado, reports The Pueblo Chieftain. Local ag producers have created a “value chain” to help locals eat food grown near where they live.

texasaccidentlawyer.com

The number of rigs actively drilling for oil in the US dipped by another 10 this week, reports fuelfix.com—and the biggest losses came from the Lone Star State. That includes four rigs lost in the Granite Wash shale play of the Texas Panhandle. This leaves only four active rigs in the entire shale region.

agriculture.com

When the USDA released its March Prospective Plantings report, some ag experts and grain markets were baffled by the large shift toward corn acres. The report listed a prospective 94 million acres of the crop nationwide. That’s a six percent increase over last year, and would add another 941 million bushels to an already well supplied market, according to agriculture.com.

So, what’s happening here?

Jim Gehrz / Minneapolis Star Tribune

Over the past few years, you might have noticed new dollars stores popping up in your town or your neighborhood. In fact, dollar stores have swept across rural America at a staggering rate, notes a report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

About 6,000 dollar stores have opened since 2010. That brings the total number of dollars stores nationwide up to 30,000. In the last six years, consumer spending in dollar stores has skyrocketed from $30 billion to $45 billion.

Denver Post

Wind farms continue to pump out millions of dollars’ worth of renewable energy in Colorado. But, as the Denver Post reports, turbines are also big business for landowners these days. Colorado landowners received $9 million in lease payments from wind companies last year. And all this wind energy couldn’t have come at a better time for rural High Plains residents. Oil and gas profits have dwindled, and slumping commodity prices have cut into farm and ranch incomes.

Boom

Many of us grew up with stories of the Concorde, the supersonic passenger jet that could cross the Atlantic in the time it takes to watch The Godfather. The Concorde was a commercial failure, and was decommissioned 13 years ago. But now billionaire mogul Sir Richard Branson says his company, Virgin, will partner with Boom to succeed where the Concorde failed. And this time, says Branson, tickets will be affordable.

Wikimedia Commons

Crop insurance has come under fire in some quarters over the past few months. While this subsidized federal program remains very popular among many farmers, others have complained that the program helps mega-farmers outbid beginning, and small farmers on land. Others insist that the program forces land values to rise in an unfair way.

Drenaline / Wikimedia Commons

The US Department of Energy approved a project last week that would ship renewable energy directly from Oklahoma’s panhandle to cities in the southeastern United States. The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that the 700-mile Plains and Eastern Clean Line project was okayed by the feds last Friday. The electricity transmission line will cross 14 Oklahoma counties before passing through Arkansas and ending north of Memphis, Tennessee.

BigTexan.com

Falling oil prices have caused many economic woes for West Texas. But the news isn’t all bleak, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Forecast, this year Texas restaurateurs should expect to see a 3.8-percent increase in sales. That will bring total revenue up over $52 billion for the year.

Ryan Kang / AP photo

HPPR listeners in eastern Colorado have probably noticed the explosion in popularity of pot-infused edibles. Marijuana-laced gummy bears, brownies, lollipops and pastries are all the rage in the Centennial State. But npr.org recently asked a burning question: Just how potent are these ganja-laced goodies? The answer? No one really knows.

Lindsey Bartlett / Westword

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has unveiled a new program that's a first for the country, reports Westword.com. Under Colorado’s seed certification program, the state will tag hemp seeds with a “CDA Approved Certified Seed” label. The new certification aims to give the industrial hemp industry and its farmers more credibility.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Cannabis is beginning to look a lot like a commodity crop.

After spending decades in darkened basements and secreted away on small parcels of land, marijuana growers are commercializing once-illegal plant varieties: industrial hemp, recreational marijuana and medical cannabis.

coloeast.com

A Texas financial institution is moving to purchase a bank with several branches in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Triumph Bancorp, Inc. of Dallas is set to acquire Colorado East Bank & Trust, reports The Greeley Tribune.

The Wichita Eagle

Tthere’s a new type of animal being raised on the Kansas plains, and it’s a bit smaller than cattle or even chickens. You might actually say it’s shrimpier. After the death of his father in 2012, Kansas farmer Bob Daniels decided it was time for a career change, reports Kansas.com. So, as any sensible agriculturist would do, he decided to start a shrimp farm. If all goes according to plan, the Sunflower Shrimp farm just south of Oxford could be open for business as soon as July.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Oil prices appear to have hit their low point. No, really, this is it, says Quartz.com. The new head of the International Energy Agency told a seminar in Oslo recently that “Oil prices appear to have bottomed out.” Neil Atkinson added that “Prices are expected to grow throughout 2016 and into 2017, reflecting expectations that the market is going back into balance in 2017.” And Atkinson may be right.  US benchmark crude West Texas Intermediate is currently up 31% from its February low.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

The Western Farm Show in Kansas City, Mo.., is a long way from Silicon Valley.

But here in a huge arena, set in what used to be the Kansas City Stockyards, the high-tech future of agriculture is for sale.

Casey Adams and Scott Jackman, co-owners of Fly Ag Tech, have their large yellow and white drone sitting at center stage in their booth at this huge annual trade show.

Rural Blog

Many High Plains residents are celebrating agriculture today. March 15 is National Ag Day, a holiday that falls right in the middle of National Ag Week, from March 13-19. This is the perfect chance to recognize the importance of local agricultural in your community, says The Rural Blog.

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