HPPR Economy and Enterprise

crop production
crop irrigation
livestock production
dairy production
research & development

oil & gas production
wind energy
biofuels production
food processing

Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
air service
internet service

Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

small business development
technology application


New research shows that sorghum is the ideal crop for eastern Colorado. According to the Journal-Advocate, sorghum is cheaper to grow and produces higher yields on the Colorado plains than corn.

Staple Foods See a Drop in Price

Oct 9, 2015
Olle Svensson / Creative Commons

Staple foods have shown a decrease in price this year, reports The Rural Blog. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the total cost of 16 staple food items has dropped by 12 cents over the last year. Whole milk had the biggest drop, down 17 percent. Apples, bacon, cheddar cheese, flour, bagged salad, vegetable oil, Russet potatoes, white bread and chicken also declined in price.

High Plains Silos Juggle an Overflow of Crops

Oct 9, 2015
Gerald B. Keane / Public Domain

Many grain elevators on the High Plains still have a lot of wheat to move this year, reports agriculture.com. Some silos are hauling the summer wheat crop out of storage and onto ground piles or bunkers in anticipation of a large fall harvest. The US dollar is at a high value right now, and there’s a glut of wheat on the global market. That means many elevators have more grain than they know what to do with.

Texas Pushes for US to Reconsider Crude Oil Exports

Oct 7, 2015
Reuters/Richard Carson / Landov

You might be surprised to learn that the US does not export crude oil. But it’s true; the United States embargoed the export of black gold forty years ago. And many Texas lawmakers would like to see the ban overturned, reports StateImpact. In fact, the US House of Representatives may soon take up the measure.

Christopher Paquette / Creative Commons

From Harvest Public Media's Field Notes blog:

Have you noticed your grocery store’s organic section starting to spill over? It’s not your imagination. The organic sector is raking in the dough.

FCC Data Compiled by The Daily Yonder

High Plains residents with scanty internet have reason to rejoice this week. The Rural Blog recently reported on details of the Connect America Fund plan to bring high-speed Internet to more rural areas.

Jacob Byk / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

McPHERSON - Autumn arrives in Kansas this week, but for Monte Dossett, the annual fall harvest has been commencing for a few weeks.

Willie Nelson to Market Cannabis Brand

Oct 1, 2015
Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Pot smokers in Colorado and Washington may soon see a familiar face on the dispensary shelves. A New York-based equity firm is backing singer Willie Nelson’s plan to market his own plan of marijuana, reports The Wall Street Journal blog. The Redheaded Stranger hopes to make his cannabis brand, Willie’s Reserve, available in both states’ recreational markets, and anywhere else sales are legal.

In Austin, a New Type of Pet Business

Sep 30, 2015
Hexodus / Creative Commons

A new pet service opened in Austin this month, reports Texas Standard, but this is no ordinary kennel or groomer. The new business is the Pet Loss Center of Austin.

Texas Holds Half of the Fastest Growing Economies in US

Sep 29, 2015
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Half of the fastest growing economies in the US last year were found in Texas, reports The Wall Street Journal’s blog. Energy-rich Midland led the way with a 24 percent advance in gross domestic product. Other Texas economies that performed well were San Angelo, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Odessa, Tyler and Austin-Round Rock. The top non-Texas performers were Lake Charles, Louisiana, Greeley, Colorado and Bismarck, North Dakota.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Nilvio Aquino weaves through a tangled jungle of marijuana plants at an indoor grow facility in Denver.

“Throw your nose in there. It’s nice and pungent,” he said, pulling a seven-foot tall plant down to nose height at one of the company’s grow facilities.

On the High Plains, Gas Prices Continue to Fall

Sep 25, 2015
Denver Post

Gas prices continue to plummet, now falling to a nationwide rate of $2.29 per gallon. The Denver Post reports that Colorado prices are slightly higher than the national average, at $2.55 per gallon. Kansas prices are just below the national average, at $2.16 a gallon, according to the Garden City Telegram.

Wall Street Investment in Land Concerns US Farmers

Sep 25, 2015
Des Moines Register

Wall Street investors have been buying up farmland across the US, leading some to worry that land prices are growing unustainable. According to The Rural Blog, many American farmers fear the prices are ballooning beyond the point where they can reasonably be expected to turn a profit.

A recent survey found farmland was the second most popular investment among 13 categories, behind only energy. Farmers worry that outside investors lack the close ties and direct knowledge necessary to preserve the land.

John's Photography / Creative Commons

The economy in the rural parts of ten Western states is likely to slow down, according to a new survey. The Denver Post reports that weak crop and energy prices are hurting profits across the region. This could lead to a rural economy slump. The survey queried bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

After Idaho Ruling, More Ag Gag Challenges to Come

Sep 23, 2015
Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

After a federal judge struck down an Idaho law that made it illegal to take undercover video on farms and ranches, animal rights groups say they are primed to challenge similar so-called “ag gag” laws across the country.

Nick Brandreth / The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal’s Moneybeat blog is wondering if strippers are the new swingers. This isn’t dirty talk, but rather an important question in today’s oil market. If oil prices continue to plummet, stripper wells could change the market’s supply-demand balance. This would qualify the wells as “swing producers” or “swingers”—entities that are able to influence prices on a grand scale.

Patrick Cavan Brown / Al Jazeera America

In the face of growing income inequality on the rural Great Plains, the Center for Rural Affairs has published four ways to address the problem.

First, rural people should be given more opportunities to obtain higher education. Research shows that people with college degrees earn almost 80 percent more per year than degreeless residents.

As Drought Eases, Experts Urge Ranchers to Use Caution

Sep 16, 2015
Jennifer Carrico / High Plains Journal

Though heavy rains have brought relief to the drought-ravaged plains, the High Plains Journal warns that ranchers should be careful in the coming months and years. Though things look better than they have in ages, animal and range science experts advise ranchers to be guarded when stocking herds.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Texas continues to see sales tax revenues decline. The Austin American-Statesman notes that the drop is linked to struggles in the state’s energy sector. August revenues were down .4 percent compared to the same time a year ago. Over the past six months, the state’s sales tax revenue collection has generally been slowing down.

Farm Incomes Decline in 2015

Sep 9, 2015
Let Ideas Compete / Flickr Creative Commons

Net farm incomes in 2015 will be down 36 percent from last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture. That’s the sharpest drop since 1983, notes The Rural Blog.

Farm income hit a record high in 2013. But since then, it’s dropped by 53 percent. Livestock income is also expected to fall 10 percent from last year. The USDA "expects growers to accelerate sales of 2015 crops this year to help generate more cash."

New Website Helps Laborers Locate Work

Sep 8, 2015
craftforce.com/ The Rural Blog

There’s a new website aimed at helping skilled workers find jobs, reports The Rural Blog. The site, craftforce.com, contains a map function similar to Google maps, where skilled trade workers can locate open positions. The website provides information on available work for machinists, electricians, pipe fitters, tool and dye makes, and crane operators, among others.

In Colorado, Rents Are at an All-Time High

Sep 7, 2015
Dipankan001 / Wikimedia Commons

Colorado rents are at an all-time high, reports Denver station KUSA. The average rent for an apartment in Colorado is nearly $1,200. That's up about 7 percent from last year. To deal with increased demand, housing units are being constructed throughout the state. Even so, Colorado’s vacancy rate sits at a steady 4.4 percent. As soon as one renter leaves, another renter fills their place. And when that happens, the landlord often raises the rent.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When President Obama announced his Clean Power Plan to cut power plant emissions, he enraged Oklahoma leaders. But researchers and officials now say that the effort to could create new opportunities in Oklahoma, reports StateImpact.


A Texas teenager has developed an invention that could help fight water contamination. According to The Guardian, Perry Alagappan has developed a new filtering device which could provide a cheap and easy way to way to purify water.

Amid Oil Bust, An Industry Thrives

Sep 3, 2015
Mose Buchele / StateImpact

As oil prices continue to plummet, there’s one industry in rural Texas that’s booming: the repossession business. StateImpact Texas reports that repo men (and repo women) in Texas are thriving amid the bust.

Sandra J. Milburn / The Hutchinson News

Kansas Agland has reported on the return of an old corn-popping method. The Atom Pop Corn Popper was invented in the 1950s, at the height of America’s science fiction era. Hence its resemblance to a flying saucer. The Atom Popper fell out of favor in the US with the advent of microwave popcorn. But in the small Kansas community of Bushton, the Orth brothers are trying to bring back the Cold War-era popping device.

In Colorado, Auto Sales are Booming

Aug 31, 2015
Foter / Creative Commons

In regional news, Coloradans are buying more new cars these days than at any time in the last decade, reports Colorado Public Radio. The trend has lifted the spirits—and the profits—of the state’s auto dealers. Many of the state’s residents now feel good enough about the economy  to invest in big purchases such as automobiles.

In the Modern Workplace, It Pays to Be a People Person

Aug 28, 2015
Victor1558 / Flickr Creative Commons

The nature of the American workplace is shifting, and the change looks to be more beneficial for females than males. A recent article on the blog FiveThirtyEight.com noted that people skills are increasingly important in the modern world. While hard skills such as math and engineering are still valued, communicating clearly has never been more important. And women appear to be capitalizing on the shift.

As Beef Prices Rise, Rustlers Return

Aug 21, 2015
Eric Gay / Associated Press

In regional news, cattle prices are at a record high. And with high prices comes the rise of an old concern in ranching: rustling. Through July this year, The Texas Rangers have worked nearly 400 theft cases, reports The Washington Post. Cases of rustling continue to rise, though stealing cattle is a felony.