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

Marijuana could be next U.S. mega-industry

Mar 7, 2017
CC0 Public Domain

The next mega-industry in the U.S. could very well be marijuana.

As Business Insider reports, a new report from New Frontier Data projects the legal weed market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs by 2020.

Wikimedia Commons

The state of the farm economy is helping agricultural groups and farm-state lawmakers make their case for preserving and possibly increasing funding levels in the 2018 farm bill but some last week argued against it.

As Politico reports, the Heritage Foundation, the Environmental Working Group and Taxpayers for Common Sense argued that the current downturn in an inherently cyclical market shouldn’t be used to maintain the status quo on farm policy.

Ed Schipul / Creative Commons

U.S. oil production is on the rise once again, opening the door for another showdown with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

As The Denver Post reports, in just over nine months, the number of U.S. drilling rigs has grown 91 percent to 602. Meanwhile, production has gained more than 550,000 barrels a day since the summer, rising above 9 million barrels a day for the first time since April.

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Three aspects of hemp farming were presented to area farmers Saturday at a Hemp Road Show held at Lamar Community College in Colorado

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If you’ve ever wanted your own cow, or more specifically steak, a new crowdfunding website could be just the thing for you.

Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal

Diversification to manage risk has returned as an overriding theme in the cattle industry, as faltering farm economics force producers to re-acclimate to leaner times.

Two regional cattlemen who bootstrapped their way to success — without a farm to inherit — talked about how they diversified their profit centers during the Tri-State Cow-Calf Symposium in Goodland, hosted by Colorado State University, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska.

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Colorado agriculture, like much of the High Plains region, is facing many challenges  - a changing marketplace in which commodity prices are the same as they were decades ago while costs continue to climb, a looming climate catastrophe and a dwindling water supply.

But as with any challenge, also comes opportunity.

To diversify the landscape, diversify who works it

Feb 28, 2017
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the U.S. like to point out that their products feed people all over the world. And while this is a diverse country, the people working on farms and elsewhere in agriculture often don’t reflect the nation’s demographics. Changing that is becoming a priority, in hopes new people will bring fresh ideas to meet some of our food system’s greatest challenges.

Casey Richmeier

Last year’s Anderson Creek Wildfire was the biggest known wildfire in Kansas’s history, burning 390,000 acres of land in Oklahoma and Kansas and killing hundreds of cattle, destroying millions of dollars worth of buildings and fences, and endangering the lives of hundreds of residents and volunteer firefighters.

And conditions are present that could make wildfires even more prevalent in 2017.

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MANHATTAN – U.S. pork producers are transitioning from using individual gestation crates to instead housing gilts and sows in groups, but it poses challenges, including the ability to monitor feed consumption. To remedy that, producers increasingly have started using electronic sow feeding (ESF) at their farms.

Pixabay

A Colorado program that helps repay the student loans of doctors who work in rural areas or underserved areas is gearing up for what could be its largest grant class ever.

As The Denver Post reports, the Colorado Health Service Corps will begin accepting applications for the new grants March first and as much as $5 million dollars could be available to repay loans for as many as 60 physicians and other providers. 

Boot Hill Distillery

Boot Hill Distillery calls itself a “soil-to-sip” distillery because it is owned by three western Kansas farmers who grow 100 percent of the grain used in crafting its spirits, which has proven to be a winning formula, as the startup recently received national recognition for its vodka.

“We do all the milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and bottling here on site,” said Mark Vierthaler, director of marketing and distiller at Boot Hill Distillery. “So it’s 100 percent a western Kansas product, which we’re very proud of.”

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The Trump Administration is voicing its support for the ethanol industry, but without specifics it is hard to say what that means exactly for Midwest farmers.

In a letter (PDF) to industry leaders gathered at the National Ethanol Conference, President Donald Trump said renewable fuels “are essential to America’s energy strategy.”

The president wrote that he aims to reduce the regulatory burden on the renewable fuels industry, but did not detail specific plans.

Chuck Grimmett / Creative Commons

Getting weed in Colorado is getting easier with a drive-through marijuana shop and could get even easier with a proposed bill that would allow it to be delivered to one’s front door.

As The Denver Post reports, the western Colorado town of Parachute is getting a drive-through marijuana shop, believed to be the first in the state.

Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News

Last week, for the first time ever, the Great Plains derived more power from wind turbines than it did from any other source.

As Bloomberg reports, last Sunday the vast power grid stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle reportedly received 52 percent of its energy from wind sources.

KVII

Amarillo is experiencing a small business boom, reports KVII.

David Dickerson, Assistant Director of the Small Business Development Center at West Texas A&M, noted that a number of new locally owned operations have popped up downtown, and in south Amarillo. The Town Square Village on Soncy Road, on the western edge of town, has also seen rapid growth.

According to the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, over 100 new businesses have joined the Chamber since last year.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

It’s a classic conundrum that comes up every time you’re cleaning out the fridge: the package label says the food is past its prime, but it’s not moldy or smelly.

Do you give it a chance or toss it in the trash?

For a great number of consumers it’s the latter, but now some of the largest food retail trade groups are hoping to settle the score and clear up the confusion in hopes of keeping more food in bellies, rather than sending heaps of food to landfills.

iStockphoto

A Kansas mother testified before Kansas lawmakers Monday about legalizing marijuana for medical use.

As KSN reports, Melissa Ragsdale’s 7-year-old son has been using legal hemp oil to relieve symptoms of epilepsy.

Ragsdale, who along with others testified before the Senate’s health and human services committee Monday, said that while her son has improved, more is needed.

Hitchhacking / Flickr Creative Commons

As Colorado’s oil and gas industry begins to recover from one of the hardest downturns in recent memory, some communities have launched fights against proposed projects that they say are larger in scale.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, residents of Garfield County and the cities of Greeley and Broomfield have launched fights against proposed projects.

Amy Bickel

With their water wells dropping, two farmers from the far southwest corner of Kansas flew a 1967 Cessna Wednesday morning to Topeka – all in support of hemp.

Farmers Darren Buck and Reid Shrauner didn’t have quite the journey as some of their fellow Morton County residents, who left before sunlight to support a bill that they think could boost their county’s struggling economy and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

CGP Grey / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil prices appear to be rebounding from their slump, leading to optimism in High Plains oil fields.

But, as The New York Times reports, there’s one important element of the recovery that still hasn’t come through: jobs.

Frac sand in demand with uptick in oil rigs

Feb 20, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With an uptick in oil rigs, concerns about the supply of frac sand, the key component of drilling, are also arising.

As Business Insider reports, oil producers have added hundreds of rigs in U.S. oil fields from Texas to North Dakota. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. rig count hit 591, the highest since October of 2015.

Clinic for refugees opens in Garden City

Feb 20, 2017
City of Garden City, KS

There’s a new clinic in Garden City, Kansas that aims to provide the community’s refugee population with healthcare and language services.  

As the Garden City Telegram reports, Dr. John Birky, CEO of the New Hope Together clinic, said the organization is dedicated to improving the physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic well-being of refugees in the community through healthcare services, English language learning and mutually beneficial relationships.

Floflo88 / Wikimedia Commons

An editorial in The Dallas Morning News is calling cattle ranchers “the first casualties of Trump's trade wars.”

Texas State University Journalism Professor Richard Parker noted several ways that Trump’s trade policy may hurt beef markets.

Tim Evanson / Flickr Creative Commons

Like other High Plains states, Colorado’s oil and gas economy is in a position to help propel it forward.

As The Denver Post reports, oil prices rose after recent OPEC production cuts and are now high enough to motivate producers to put more rigs to work and translate into more domestic production, said Erica Bowman, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute.

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Small farming operations are benefiting from mobile technologies geared toward addressing challenges they face, from production to financial services to market access.

Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma has jumped to third in the state rankings, when it comes to wind power production.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Sooner State leapfrogged California to take the third spot. That’s no small feat, given that California bests Oklahoma in land area, population, and general economic might.

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Even though transitioning from traditional to organic farming methods can be costly, Colorado farmers are increasingly doing so in order to meet rising demand for organic produce.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado’s organic agricultural industry has more than doubled in sales – from $66.2 million in 2012 to $155.2 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Certified Organic Survey.

Where Is the Wheat Market Headed? Brace yourself

Feb 10, 2017
Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

I don’t think there’s anybody on the planet who thought the wheat market could go as low as it did this past year.

But when it decided to go low, it did so with a great deal of passion. It headed right for $2.50 and just kept clawing away day after day till it got there. And just to punctuate its success, it decided to keep on going down. I should have taken a picture of my computer screen when it showed cash wheat in Dighton, KS at $2.20 a bushel. Who would have ever believed that? I hadn’t seen prices that low since 1977 when wheat in Dighton in February was $2.17 a bushel.

Layton Ehmke

Following months and months of incredibly dry weather, the good news is that much of Kansas finally got some badly needed rain, ice and snow several weeks ago back in January. With that precip, the wheat plant roots are finally starting to grow.

And it looks like a fair amount of the Kansas wheat crop now has a future.

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