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

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

The Oklahoman

The number of new oil rigs has soared recently in Oklahoma, as well as nationwide, The Tulsa World reports.

The rise of the rigs can be attributed to recent optimism in the oil and natural gas sectors.

According to the oilfield service company Baker Hughes, the number of rigs in the U.S. jumped by 35 this week. That’s the largest weekly gain in almost five years. Oklahoma added seven new rigs.

In an effort to improve emergency response for structure fires in and around Hays, the Hays Fire Department and Ellis County Rural Fire Department recently joined forces for a new automatic aid agreement.

Kansas State Research and Extension

The annual Cover Your Acres Winter Conference is taking place tomorrow and Wednesday in Oberlin.

As Kansas Agland reports, agricultural producers, consultants and experts will gather for the 14th annual conference, which is being held at the Gateway Civic Center.

HITCHHACKING / Flickr Creative Commons

When OPEC curbed production last year, oil producers on the High Plains saw a potential end to the slump that has crippled small-town communities in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.

Down times in farm country persist, but not yet a ‘crisis’

Jan 17, 2017
Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

NET_EFEKT / Flickr Creative Commons

The High Plains has long been wheat country. And we’re not alone. Wheat is grown on more land than any other crop in the world.

But, as Bloomberg reports, wheat markets have been glutted for a long while now, and many farmers are turning to other crops as a result. Many parts of the world have seen four straight seasons of record harvests.

Wikimedia Commons

Farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the nation.

As High Plains Journal reports, the pitfalls and hazards of farming are so many and varied that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls it one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S.

Smriti Daniel / SciDev.net

Agriculture is still in the early days of applying robotics to farming. But analysts are confident that in coming years, robots will revolutionize agriculture.

Bloomberg News

Last year saw the worst oil downturn in a generation. Exploration outfits slashed spending, and oil discoveries were the lowest they’d been since the 1950s.

But, as Bloomberg reports, the good news is there’s probably nowhere to go but up.

In 2016, oil companies discovered about 14 percent less oil than they had in the previous year—and 2015 was itself a slow year for exploration. Last year’s discovery total was America’s lowest since 1952.

Mark Sterkel / Odessa American

The Texas economy is expected to pick up in 2017, say analysts, though the growth may be modest.

As the Austin American-Statesman reports, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expects the labor and economy markets in the Lone Star State to grow a bit sunnier this year.

Wikimedia Commons

A new wind farm is on Lamar, Colorado’s very near horizon. 

As The Prowers Journal , Iberdrola Renewables, LLC will begin construction on the Twin Buttes II project, which will consist of 36 wind turbines that will be located on the east side of Highway 287, east of the Colorado Green turbine complex, this spring.

Gas prices continue to steadily increase

Jan 5, 2017
AAA

According to AAA, the national average gas price as of Tuesday was $2.34 per gallon, the highest New Year fuel prices since 2014. 

KHI News Service becoming part of KCUR public radio

Jan 5, 2017
Flickr

The Kansas Health Institute News Service, the nonprofit news reporting service of the Kansas Health Institute (KHI), has become part of KCUR Public Media, a move that took effect Jan. 1

Flickr

Cattle prices will likely continue to decline in 2017, as cattle inventories across the country will continue to expand.

Eddie Seal / San Antonio Express News

Texas oil production is on an upward trend, reports the San Antonio Express News, and oil and gas producers in the Lone Star State are hoping the upswing will continue into 2017.

According to a recent study, Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to people living just above the poverty line may be responsible for more disabled people getting jobs.

As Reuters Health reports, prior to passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare, in 2010, people with disabilities and low income jobs were often unable to afford their expensive medical care. Many opted for unemployment in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Marlith / Wikimedia Commons

Texas companies saw an increase in consumer spending over the month of December.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, economists are attributing the uptick to what they’re calling a “Trump bump.”

They say consumers are relieved that the election has ended, and they’re opening their wallets as a result. Many Texans also feel confident in how President-Elect Donald Trump will handle the economy.

2016's top apps and gadgets

Dec 30, 2016
Nielsen

Here are a few of the top apps and gadgets of 2016.

More urban farms sprouting with USDA's help

Dec 29, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

Farming, a largely rural activity, is moving to the cities, as urban farms continue to grow with help from the federal government.

The many steps of the donated clothing process

Dec 28, 2016
Flickr

Amazon is teaming up with Goodwill to make donating as simple as filling up a box.

Creative Commons

Wheat farmers have historically used grain futures to hedge against low grain prices, but many are losing faith in the tactic.

David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons

A new law in Oklahoma will allow grocery and convenience stores to sell wine and strong beer starting in October of 2018.

Up to now, only liquor stores were allowed to sell these products. But the fight over the new law isn’t over yet.

As the Fort Smith Times Record reports, Oklahoma’s liquor stores are challenging the new voter-approved guidelines, hoping to put a stop to them. They say the law will put mom-and-pop liquor stores out of business.

morningagclips.com

Many people use the same password, or a variation thereof, to access the myriad of websites or apps that they use on a daily basis, and after every big hack, experts warn people to stop.

With Christmas behind us, some of these scams may not be as much of a concern now, but the Better Business Bureau wants people to stay alert to several scams that are prevalent throughout the year. 

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

Alan Williams of Modoc, Kansas says his wife, Tonja, is like the Willy Wonka of western Kansas.

Ed Schipul / Creative Commons

Oil and gas officials in Oklahoma continue to celebrate OPEC’s decision to reduce its output, reports The Norman Transcript.

As Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry put it, “The move is good news for Oklahoma, where the oil and natural gas industry is the backbone of the state’s economy.”

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Just weeks after Anheuser-Busch took an automated semi-truck full of beer for a test run on Interstate 25 in Colorado, state officials are planning another test drive – this one, as the Wall Street Journal reports, to test electric-powered trucks and battery charging technology capable of powering electric trucks as they drive.

Kristofer Husted / KBIA/Rural Blog

Hydroponic farming could present an answer for farmers trying to find a way to grow crops in areas decimated by drought. Hydronics are a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

As The Rural Blog reports, the idea is catching on in places like Egypt that are strapped for H2O. And some farmers in the U.S. are now looking to the technique as a solution for drought-ridden regions.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Despite increasing gas prices, AAA is projecting holiday travel to reach the highest level on record this year.

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