HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Legal for 16 years
9:06 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Canada feeding the American appetite for hemp

Hemp seed products are now widely available in leading grocery and warehouse food stores thanks to vertically integrated producers such as Manitoba Harvest that handles the product from plants in the field to ready-to-eat products on the store shelf.
Quentin Hope / HPPR

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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Still a murky field
8:01 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Hemp growing returns after 44 year ban

At Centennial Seeds in Lafayette, Colo., Ben Holmes is testing hemp varieties. Holmes made his name distributing and breeding strains of medical and recreational marijuana, but recently has become a prominent figure in Colorado’s fledgling hemp industry.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

A handful of farmers are set to plant the country’s first hemp crop in decades, despite federal regulations that tightly restrict the plant’s cultivation.

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Kansas ranks 10th most dangerous
12:10 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Kansas is a dangerous place to work

Credit christianfaithatwork.com

A report recently released by the AFL-CIO says Kansas is the tenth most dangerous state to work in.  Kansas has one of the worst workplace safety records in the nation based on 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The report revealed 88 Kansas workers died because of on-the-job injuries according to The Hays Daily News.

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Controlled substance or cash crop?
7:23 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

A hemp growing “revolution” coming to agriculture?

Front cover of Doug Fine's recently released book predicting an agricultural revolution from hemp growing.
Credit http://dougfine.com/books/hemp-bound/

Hear Luke's interview with author Doug Fine

The farm bill passed earlier this year is big news for advocates of hemp. New rules differentiate industrial hemp from its cousin, marijuana, and pave the way for research on the plant.  Hemp is still considered a controlled substance by federal regulators. But some states are giving farmers the chance to experiment.

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Emergency Preparedness
12:15 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Livestock disaster preparedness program completed in Texas Panhandle

Credit extension.org

The Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) was recently completed in the Texas Panhandle – a major region for cattle feedlots, hog production and the dairy industry.  The 18-month training helps prepare the cattle feeding and livestock industry against natural and manmade threats according to a recent article in PR Web.

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Higher temperatures create more water stress
3:15 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Drought sensitivity could reduce corn yields for years to come

Corn yields could fall 15 to 30 percent—unless new varieties or agronomic techniques can offset the trend.
Credit JOHN STANMEYER, VII / NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Corn plants in the United States have become more drought sensitive, not less.  Yields have continued to increase because seed companies have developed genetic improvements allowing higher planting density.  Drought sensitivity could drive yields down in the years to come unless companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont successfully develop varieties that thrive in drought reported the National Geographic.

5:40 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Drought hammers the breadbasket

Lead in text: 
Wheat futures are up on the Chicago Board of Trade, but this year's wheat crop is getting battered by the drought.
WICHITA, Kan.-Agricultural economist Josh Roe walked into a dusty wheat field on this city's outskirts this week and spotted trouble. The ground was cracked, and the wheat plants were only half their normal size for this stage of the season.
5:26 am
Wed May 7, 2014

Exploring five steps to feed the world

Lead in text: 
When you think about carbon footprint, does feeding the world cross your mind? It does for John Foley. He wrote about it recently in an article published by National Geographic. “When we think about threats to the environment, we tend to picture cars and smokestacks, not dinner,” Foley wrote. “But the truth is, our need for food poses one of the biggest dangers to the planet.” Foley outlined five steps to feed the world.
Step Three: Use Resources More Efficiently We already have ways to achieve high yields while also dramatically reducing the environmental impacts of conventional farming. The green revolution relied on the intensive-and unsustainable-use of water and fossil-fuel-based chemicals.
Census looks at national, state, and county levels
8:00 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

2012 Ag Census Reveals New Farming Trends

Credit kids.britannica.com

The United States Department of Agriculture recently released 2012 Ag Census data.  The report reveals record sales, rising expenses, increasing agricultural diversity, and changing farming and marketing practices according to the Prowers Journal.

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Oil & Gas
8:00 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Baker Hughes disclosing all fracking chemicals, Halliburton considering it

Credit ktul.com

Trade Secrets are a place where oil and gas companies are allowed to keep secret the ingredients used in fracking.  Baker Hughes has decided to publically list all the chemicals used in the process, while Halliburton, a major competitor is considering it reported The Associated Press and StateImpact Oklahoma.

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Amarillo-based company
8:00 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

SEC Filing reveals Hastings insiders anticipated a bleak future

Store Set Leader Leah Stevens works in the music department last summer during a Hastings store remodeling project at the Georgia Street store. New Jersey merchandising mogul Joel Weinshanker has offered $21.4 million for the chain.
Credit amarillo.com

A report filed by Hastings Entertainment to the Securities and Exchange Commission reveals the company predicted a dire future.  In 2012, the report states the company considered selling itself when reorganization and eliminating executives didn’t stem the retailer’s downward spiral.  The filing went on to say the steps didn’t have “sufficient impact” to predict the company would “return to profitability in the near future,” reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

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Foot and mouth fears
8:00 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Ranchers Wringing Hands Over Possible Brazilian Beef Imports

Gyr cattle in Brazil
Credit Wikipedia

Hear the audio version on Luke's story

Sharon Harvat drives a blue pick-up truck through a field of several hundred pregnant heifers on her property outside Scottsbluff in western Nebraska and notes, “On a warm day they’ll lay out flat like that...”.

Harvat and her husband John run their cattle here in the Nebraska panhandle during the winter and take them back to the mountains in northern Colorado when the calves are born. Harvat says, when she heard about a proposal to open up beef trade with Brazil, she felt a pit in her stomach.  “On an operation like ours, where we travel a lot with our cattle, that would probably come to an abrupt halt if there was an outbreak.”

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Oil & Gas
8:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Oklahoma: No rule change for disposal wells permits, but approval process subtly different

Credit JOE WERTZ / STATEIMPACT OKLAHOMA

As experts continue to point to injection wells as the reason for increased earthquake activity, regulators in Oklahoma have changed the way permits for these wells are approved according to StateImpact Oklahoma.

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HIghrise
8:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

Vertical farming growing up

Large banks of fluorescent lamps provide the spectrum of light that keeps the floating beds of plants alive year-round in The Plant Chicago, a vertical farming facility.
Credit Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food in urban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.

Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.

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Proposed Federal rule change
8:00 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

No more brewery leftovers for cattle?

A new federal food safety rule would classify breweries as animal food manufacturers because many breweries sell or donate leftover grains to ranchers.
Credit Flickr Commons / Niels Linneberg

Few people connect craft breweries with cattle feed. But passing along the spent grains from the brewing process, like barley and wheat, to livestock ranchers is a common practice. Although now, that relationship could be in jeopardy.

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Oil & Gas
8:00 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Own your very own Texas oil well

Credit texasstaralliance.com

The Lone Star State has always been willing to gamble on oil and gas drilling.  The bets are big, and the latest boom has mostly been the work of companies and investors with plenty of capital.  A new Texas company could change that.  For a minimum investment of $80,000 you can own your very own oil well reported StateImpact Texas.

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Texas Panhandle
8:00 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Amarillo: Town Square Village is more than another development

Architectural drawing of Town Square
Credit Michael Schumacher / amarillo.com

Town Square Village is a four-square-mile piece of southwest Amarillo with a vision of being more than another development.  The multimillion-dollar expansion will be an “urban landscape where apartment dwellers live above stores and restaurants in a pedestrian-friendly community core surrounded by row houses and suburbs of single-family homes,” according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News

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Food Processing
8:00 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Labeling accident proves fake meat taste is improving

Ethan Brown, the founder of Beyond Meat, and colleagues served meatless tacos at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, Calif.
Credit Ann Johansson / nytimes.com

The taste of vegetarian meat substitute is improving.  It’s so good, in fact, that consumers couldn’t tell if they were eating meat substitute or chicken in a salad product from Whole Foods.  The labels on the products were inadvertently switched.  Whole Foods had to recall the item not because of consumer complaints, but federal labeling requirements.  Consumers eating the plant protein substitute were inadvertently exposed to soy and eggs, which are allergens requiring labeling according to a recent article in the New York Times.

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Kiowa County
8:00 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Southeastern Colorado: Small community gambles economic future on casinos

Grain storage, houses and out buildings as well as playground Residents attend the Eads Main Street Bash aimed at raising money to save the town's theater, August 10, 2013.
Credit RJ Sangosti / denverpost.com

The Kiowa County oil and gas boom has tanked, and now the small community of Eads is putting its economic development bets on casino gambling according to a recent article from the Denver Post

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Texas Panhandle
8:00 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Carson County Texas: Pantex plant under new management

Credit dshs.state.tx.us

Consolidated Nuclear Security is the new Pantex Plant Contractor according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News.  The Government Accountability Office rejected the third contract protest by a representative of Babcock and Wilcox Co. who currently operate the Carson County nuclear weapons plant.

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Vertical integration
8:00 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Hog farmers split on packer-owned pigs

Jim Knopik used to raise 500 hogs each year in a confinement building on his farm in Fullerton, Neb., but now his family only raises 50 in an open air pen. He downsized as contracting and consolidation became larger parts of the pork industry.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Nebraska hog farmers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposal that would allow meatpacking companies more control over the state’s hog industry. And farmers all over the country are watching.

Currently, a 1998 state law bans meatpacking companies from owning and raising the hogs they process. But lawmakers have proposed an end to the ban, which would allow for more vertical integration of the hog industry.

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Agriculture
8:00 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

How drought, cattle, and Crimea affect Texas cotton farming

Credit debicates.blogspot.com

Farmers across the high plains are faced with planting choices every year.  This year Texas farmers are wondering if corn, cotton, or sorghum will make the most money according to StateImpact Texas

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Kansas
8:00 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Western Kansas thriving despite national slump

Main Street of Garden City, Kansas
Credit downtowngc.com

There’s work in western Kansas.  The region hasn’t seen a decline like the rest of the country said a recent article in RFD-TV Magazine

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Renewable Energy
8:00 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

On the roads: Trucks transporting wind farm parts from Kansas and Iowa to the Texas Panhandle

Pattern Energy moves wind turbine components by special trailer to the Texas Panhandle.
Credit amarillo.com

Pattern Energy is moving components from Hutchinson and Abilene, Kansas, as well as Iowa, to the Texas Panhandle.  Sections of towers that hold the large blades in the air and the narcelles that hold the equipment that makes electricity from the turning blades are transported by trucks pulling specially built trailers.  The components are headed for two projects located north of Amarillo.

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Food Safety
8:01 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Unpacking lessons from Colorado's cantaloupe listeria scare

Cantaloupe farmers across the country took a hit after the 2011 outbreak, which caused melon consumption to drop.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Listen to Luke's report.

When Colorado cantaloupe laden with the deadly pathogen listeria killed more than 30 people in 2011, shockwaves rippled throughout the food industry. The outbreak made one thing clear: huge cracks exist in the systems meant to keep our food safe to eat. Denver Post reporters Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown set out to explore those conflicts within food safety in their new book Eating Dangerously.

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Agriculture
4:42 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Drones: Coming soon to a farm near you?

Agriculture consultant Chad Colby shows a room of Midwest farmers how GPS can control a high-definition camera attached to a UAV.
Credit Peter Gray/Harvest Public Media

Unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t just for spies or for the battlefield. Farmers all over the country think drones can give them a leg up, too.

Tech-savvy farmers have been waiting for years for the government to make up its mind about the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Right now, anyone flying a drone for business instead of as a hobby is actually breaking federal law. But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees U.S. airspace, says it plans to roll out rules for drones this year.

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Texas Panhandle
8:00 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

Texas: Lake Meredith still generating revenue despite low water levels

Lake Meredith
Credit amarillo.com

The water level is down, and so are the number of people visiting Lake Meredith and the associated Alibates Flint Quarries.  However, the sites are still impacting the area’s economy in a positive manner said a recent article in the Amarillo News-Globe.

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Renewable Energy
8:00 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

First community-owned solar garden comes to Kansas

A solar panel garden in Houston, Texas
Credit southunioncdc.org

Two energy companies are partnering to build the largest community solar array in Kansas.  Community-owned Midwest Energy and community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) signed an agreement to build a 1-MW community solar photovoltaic array according to a recent article in Utility Products.

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Texas State Government
8:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Texas regulations could kill bid for Tesla plant

Tesla roadster
Credit wikipedia.org

Texas is one of four finalists trying to reel in Tesla Motors from California.  However, the state will not allow the company to sell its upscale electric cars directly to consumers because of long-standing state laws protecting and regulating auto dealerships according to the Texas Tribune.

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Growing on the High Plains
8:00 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Full Circle Farming: Fins and Flora

Alice shows Skip the lettuce plugs
Barb Blevins High Plains Public Radio

We'll continue our visit to Beaver Creek Ranch with a look at Full Circle Aquaponics, a re-circulating system combining aquaculture (fish) and hydroponics (plants).  We'll start our tour in a  low-energy footprint greenhouse designed by Alice Hill and take a look at how tilapia fish and a variety of greens and lettuces support each other.

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