HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Harvest Public Media field note
4:00 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Tying crop insurance to conservation faces tough road in House

Now that the Senate has a farm bill (technically the Agriculture, Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013)ready and waiting for reconciliation with a House version, it’s a good time to look at how some of what the Senate passed may play out in the House—and what it all means for the general public as well as for farmers.

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Economy & Enterprise
5:18 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Census: Kansas and Oklahoma Median Age Decreases; Texas Majority-Minority

Nationally, the United States is aging, but recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed five states bucked the trend.  They are: Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Alaska.  The report also noted half of children under the age of five are minorities, Asians are the fastest growing minority or ethnic group, and four states, including Texas, are, "majority-minority."  You can read the recent article from the Kansas Institute of Health here.

Harvest Public Media field note
8:01 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

How are decisions made about projects that benefit rural America?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture first began designating funds for rural development in 1933 as part of the New Deal. More federal funds were allocated in the Agricultural Act of 1970. During this fiscal year, the rural development program is administering approximately $38 billion in loans, loan guarantees and grants. It’s being used to construct or improve 48 rural libraries, assist 243 projects in the delivery of healthcare and help more than 270,000 low income families get affordable housing, according to the USDA.

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3:03 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

NW Kansas Physician Continues to Be an IT Groundbreaker

Lead in text: 
A rural physician was the first to be federally certified to use electronic medical records in the state of Kansas, and continues the trend by being chosen as one of the first Health IT Fellows.
Dr. Jen Brull - a family medicine physician in the tiny western Kansas town of Plainville - is among the first class of 28 fellows to be named this month by the national agency that coordinates health information technology efforts.
Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Budget cuts and wider competition for USDA's 'rural' dollars

Eugene Jacquez’s family has grown beans and raised sheep at the base of the Culebra peaks in San Luis, Colo., for generations. He belongs to the Rio Culebra Cooperative and says without federal funding, many of his neighbors will be reluctant to sell to the co-op.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

    As lawmakers debate the Farm Bill in Washington, millions of dollars are at stake for small businesses across the country. Rural development grants go out to everything from home loans to water projects to small co-ops.

With budget cuts likely, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting how these funds are used, and proposing changes to the word “rural.” But there’s concern that a tighter belt at the federal level means farmers and ranchers in small towns will be left behind.

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Harvest Public Media story
6:27 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

The Tricky Business of Running a CSA

A regular supply of fresh, locally grown produce is the expected return from investors in a CSA farm.

Within the local food movement, the community supported agriculture, or CSA, model is praised. It’s considered one of the best ways to restore a connection to the foods we eat. Consumers buy a share of a farmer’s produce up front as a shareholder and then reap the rewards at harvest time. But as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports running a CSA can bring some tricky business decisions.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Lifeblood for rural communities: federal funds

Staunton, Ill., Mayor Craig Neuhaus, left, checks out the town’s new water plant with Hank Fey, a public works director.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media.

As Congress fiddles with major farm legislation, there’s a portion of it that gets very little attention. Some say it is a difference-maker for job creation in small rural communities and provides a boost those towns need. Harvest Public Media’s Bill Wheelhouse reports.

In the small town of Staunton, Ill., the new $9 million water plant is a welcome addition. After all, when the 80-year-old facility it replaces seized up last year, the community’s 5,000 residents were without water for five days. 

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8:09 am
Wed June 12, 2013

New technology, unusual alliances and uncertain subsidies drive wind power

Lead in text: 
Advances in technology, along with an unusual alliance of green and red politics, have spurred the growth of wind energy across the plains states. Yet the uncertainty of short-term tax credits has also created cycles of boom and bust that may harm the industry in the long run. The Economist magazine provides a good overview of the current state of play.
ON A breezy day in October last year the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, took a tour of his state's flourishing oil- and gas-exploration industry. But as the bus travelled across the open plains it was difficult not to notice a new phenomenon in Kansan energy: wind turbines. Lots of them.
Harvest Public Media story
12:45 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

SNAP cut, direct payments out, insurance in and provisioned

Wheat field west of Amarillo shredded by a late-May hailstorm.
Credit Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Kay Ledbetter

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

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Economy & Enterprise
8:01 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Your Infrastructure Grade is...

The American Society of Civil Engineers recently posted the infrastructure report card for each state.  Scores were given in 12 categories: aviation, bridges, dams, drinking water, education, energy, flood control, inland waterways, roads, solid waste, transit, and wastewater.

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9:46 am
Sat June 8, 2013

Water conservation incentives leading to more water use?

Lead in text: 
The 1996 farm bill authorized an incentive program to help farmers buy more efficient irrigation equipment to save water. An estimated $4.2 billion in conservation subsidy payments have been made since 1997 and the program is under scrutiny in the current debate over a new five-year farm bill. And questions are being raised over whether the water conservation promoted by the program has actually led to more overall water use.
WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars in farm subsidies for irrigation equipment aimed at water conservation have led to more water use, not less, threatening vulnerable aquifers and streams. From Wyoming to the Texas Panhandle, water tables have fallen 150 feet in some areas - ranging from 15 percent to 75 percent - since the 1950s, scientists say, because the subsidies give farmers the incentive to irrigate more acres of land.
3:10 pm
Thu June 6, 2013

Texas Safety Program Works to Make Roads Safe

Lead in text: 
US 83 is one of the longest north south routes in the United States, and it cuts through the heart of the high plains. When you’re on that long stretch, there are times you would swear you’re the only car in a sea of giant 18 wheelers. The Texas Department of Public Safety is working to ensure your safety by participating in National Roadcheck week.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is part of a nationwide commercial vehicle inspection program going on this week. The overall Roadcheck initiative
Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

States ponder the "right to farm"

Some farmers are feeling a bit defensive – or put-upon -- these days. Take the recent experiences of Bob Young, for instance.  The 69 year old raises 36-hundred hogs on the land where he grew up near Rochester in central Illinois.  When he was getting ready to build a hog confinement facility seven years ago some area residents, concerned about the potential smell of the place, filed suit.  A court order stopped construction for 18 months.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

At the farmers market... with food stamps

April Segura, of Lincoln, Neb., uses her SNAP benefits to shop at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market with her sons Jalen, 5, and Jeriel, 1.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

April Segura is a regular at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Neb. On a warm, May afternoon, the single, stay-at-home mother of three greeted friends and acquaintances while strolling past tables of lettuce and herbs. She hoped to find more asparagus for sale.

“I love asparagus season and it’s probably about to be over,” said Segura, holding two grocery bags with one arm and her one-year-old son, Jeriel, with the other.

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Playa Country episode
12:25 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Farm Bill Status Update

Credit usnews.com

Playa Lakes Joint Venture's Policy Director Barth Crouch updates status of the 2013 Farm Bill. He says most ections of the legislation pertaining to conservation were funded through fiscal year 2013 in the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of 2012.

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Harvest Public Media story
4:12 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

A new frontier in genetically engineered food

Kevin Wells has been genetically engineering animals for 24 years.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle,” said Wells recently as he walked through his lab at the University of Missouri - Columbia. “You take DNA apart and put it back together in different orders, different orientations.”

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Harvest Public Media story
3:14 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Taxing complications for farmers and an April 15 deadline

This tax season is an unusual one for farmers.

“Farmers didn’t necessarily have a great crop to harvest, but they harvested a huge amount of income last year. It was one of the biggest years, inflation-adjusted, since going back to the 1970s,” said Roger McEowen, who runs the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.

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Harvest Public Media story
7:15 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Generic seeds could have a short lifespan

Potted soybean plants line the tables in a research greenhouse at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Researchers are trying to understand the ways different genes control plant growth.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The patent rights on the first genetically modified seeds expire next year, but it’s not clear how the introduction of “generic” seeds fits into the science and business of GM crops.

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Genetically Modified Organisms
6:26 am
Mon February 25, 2013

The seeds of genetic modification

The vast majority of the corn and soybeans in United States grow from seeds that have been genetically modified. The technology is barely 30 years old and the controversy surrounding it somewhat younger. But how did it even become possible?

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Harvest Public Media story
3:56 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Technology chips away at influence of prominent ag towns

Kansas City Board of Trade

 At the crossroads of industry, railroads and farm country Kansas City has long been a capital of the plains. In recent years, though, Kansas City and other agriculture hubs have seen technology chip away at their importance.

Since 1856, for instance, wheat has been traded on the floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade. In the old days, there would be a swarm of traders around the pits, shouting orders, making those crazy hand signals you've seen in the movies, but that will end later this summer.

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Harvest Public Media story
4:37 pm
Thu January 3, 2013

Limited progress on animal lab site at KSU

The site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan., was a big hole in the ground in spring 2012. Not much had changed by the end of the year.
Credit Laura Ziegler for Harvest Public Media

  

In Manhattan, Kan., the site of National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is still just a huge hole in the ground nearly a year after the initial ground-breaking.

But there has been some progress. In December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which will operate the huge animal disease lab if it is ever completed, got title to the land when the city of Manhattan officially deeded over the 47-acre site. It’s a move that supporters hope will breathe new life into the beleaguered lab.

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6:46 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Water as the most valuable crop

Lead in text: 
Growing urban areas adjoining the High Plains are becoming major customers for the region's water. What was once considered a production input is now the final harvest in southeast Colorado.
Southeastern Colorado is laced with canals. You can
Harvest Public Media Story
7:30 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Markets woo wary farmers

Daryl Larson, a farmer from McPherson, Kan., wants to be able to trust the markets, but is wary.
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

Farmers are the bedrock of the agricultural commodities markets – after all, they make the products that are traded there.

But after the October bankruptcy of commodity trading firm MF Global and more recent allegations of shady dealings at Iowa futures firm Peregrine Financial, the bedrock is shaking.

That’s why CME Group, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is working hard to regain farmers’ trust.

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