HPPR Economy and Enterprise

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Three jewels, totaling $113 million, will be added to the crown of downtown Amarillo. They are: a $69.3 million convention center hotel, $30.3 million multi-purpose event venue, and $13.4 million parking garage.  The Amarillo Globe-News reported they will be constructed in the vicinity of City Hall and the Amarillo Civic Center.

A food fight over U.S. sugar program

Jul 22, 2013
Colorado State University Libraries Archives and Special Collections

Sugar beet growing and refining was once a major industry in western Kansas and remains so in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.  But it’s an industry that’s been supported by government subsidies of one sort or another dating back to 1789.  This pits sugar users against sugar producers over whether preserving a U.S. industry and domestic jobs is worth paying twice the international market price for sugar.  Harvest Public Media has an update on the ongoing debate. 

Metal thefts plague farm country

Jul 21, 2013
Payne Roberts/Harvest Public Media

In the countryside, there are fewer people – and some prefer it that way, especially thieves. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that metal thefts have increased by 36 percent since 2010 – and that leaves farm equipment and machinery as easy pickings.

Want to invest in farmland? Join the crowd

Jul 19, 2013
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The new company Fquare is bringing crowd-sourcing to the increasingly lucrative market of investing in farmland.

It's About Oil: Pipelines and Spills

Jul 18, 2013
flickr.com/photos/shannonpatrick17/

North Dakota has the most reported oil spills of any state.  Oklahoma ranks number two, but that may be a gross understatement.  State Impact Oklahoma says spill reporting requirements vary from state to state.  The Oklahoma mandate is ten gallons or more, Texas is five, and in North Dakota, it's one gallon or more. 

Credit Todd Wiseman & Mikhail Popov, Texas Tribune

For the past 14 years, Texas has celebrated the return to school with a sales tax holiday.  KUT News reports this year the event is August 9-11.  Most clothing and back-to-school supplies under $100.00 are not taxed.

Estimated shopper savings is expected to be more than $74 million across the state.

Details about exempt items are available from the Texas State Comptroller's website.

GUS CHAN / THE PLAIN DEALER /LANDOV

Injection wells are linked to earthquakes in a handful of states like: Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Ohio, and Colorado.  Impact Oklahoma reported the largest earthquake connected to a disposal and injection well occurred on November 2011 in Prague, Oklahoma.  However, Oklahoma has not responded with significant regulations.

Our second visit to Busy Bee Farms in Kismet Kansas takes us for a tour of internal workings of the greenhouses that produce literal layers of tomatoes,  as well as lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables. Pond plants and koi fish provide some tropical looking landscapes on our walk-through.  We'll also get the buzz on the insect population that helps pollinate and protect the produce and plants.

Texas Tech University

  What do you get when you combine resources from The U.S. Department of Energy, a private company named Vestas, and Texas Tech University?  A project with the goal of creating a better wind farm. 

Go Health

The Kansas Health Institute reported when it comes to the upcoming health insurance exchange, state-run is better than federal.

Video Documentary: Aging of the American Farmer

Jul 14, 2013
Ray Meints for NET News

Farmers are getting older.  They’re working longer, staying on the land later and continuing to do what they’ve done for decades: heading out day after day after day to work their land.

In 1978, the average age of the American farmer was just over 50. In 2007, it was creeping toward 60, at just over 57-years-old. What does that mean for the agriculture industry? Harvest Public Media went to answer that question by focusing on this massive demographic shift that affects not just rural America but the power and potential of an entire industry. 

Silent Radio Celebrates 50 Years

Jul 13, 2013
NIST

Wired magazine recently reported, "the most important radio you've never heard," celebrated its 50th birthday.  WWVB, a station that broadcasts from the base of the Rocky Mountains, sends out a signal that keeps Americans on time.  Devices lock onto and sync with the signal.  This invisible piece of infrastructure, you've never tuned in and listened to,  has moved industries from entertainment to telecommunications. 

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

While the farming community continues to age fewer young people are filling the ranks, prompting the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?

The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.

Western Kansas Clinics Receive Federal Grant Money

Jul 11, 2013
shrm.org

Two western Kansas clinics received federal monies to help residents maneuver their way through the upcoming health insurance exchange.  The Kansas Health Institute reported the funds will be used to hire a total of 32 outreach workers in 14 clinics across Kansas.  The total grant amount was $1.6 million.

The two clinics are: 

Today we'll start a special three part series that began as a stop-over at Busy Bee Farms in Southwest Kansas.  I found out about this great place when I bought a little container of delicious tomatoes that sported the Busy Bee logo and implored me to 'buy local'. 

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.

Facing the family farm legacy

Jul 9, 2013
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Driving out of the western Iowa town of Panora, the winding roads offer broad vistas of rolling hills. Many of the mailboxes along Redwood Road show the name Arganbright. Jim Arganbright grew up in this area, one of 10 children. He and his wife, Beverly, have eight kids.

Though Jim Arganbright farmed here his whole life, three years ago at the age of 80 he started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his children who farms full-time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that.

How long can you farm?

Jul 8, 2013
Bob Hawthorn

Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days. In 2012, 5 percent of the U.S. workforce was beyond retirement age. But farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census 25 percent of all farm operators were over 65 years old.

Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer.

“It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

Texas Wins: Energy Dichotomy

Jul 7, 2013
leadenergy.org

Texas.  Everything's bigger in Texas.  A recent piece by State Impact Texas, noted it not only applies to fossil fuel production, but also pollution.  The biggest polluter is also the state with the most wind energy, more than any other state, as a matter of fact, more than a lot of countries.  

Farm groups keep up farm bill pressure

Jul 7, 2013
geringhoffusa.blogspot.com

  In an effort to revive the defeated farm bill, more than 530 organizations, including heavyweights like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, have signed a letter (PDF) that urges House Speaker John Boehner to bring the legislation back to the floor.

OSHA inspection reveals plant failed to protect workers.

workingnurse.com

The Kansas Health Institute reported two companies agreed to pay the federal government $9.7 million.   The two are: Hospital Corporation of America, owner of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, and Lifepoint Hospitals, Inc.,  owner of Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City.  The settlement is in regard to allegations that both billed over billed Medicare for an inpatient procedure that could have been done safely and more cost effectively in an out-patient setting.

Who wants biotech wheat?

Jul 4, 2013
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

2013 Wheat Harvest Isn't Good for Western Kansas

Jul 3, 2013

Kansas wheat harvest is nearing completion, and it seems to be a year of feast or famine. Western Kansas falls on the side of famine.  The Wichita Eagle says Highway 13 seems to be the dividing line.

Happy State Bank and Amarillo National Bank made BauerFinancial's Top 100 Banks. BauerFinancial analyzes and reports on the condition of the nation's banks. Financial institutions do not pay for this rating, nor can they avoid it.

ezilon

Typically, cities fuel job growth, but a recent article in the Wichita Eagle reveals urban employment levels in Kansas are level, while rural areas are experiencing growth.   Much of the rural improvements can be attributed to increased oil drilling, oil services, overall farming wealth increase, and government transfers like Medicare. 

Jerod Foster

Motivated by water district regulations and a falling water table, a handful of farmers in the Texas Panhandle are participating in a water conservation project.  Farmers like Harold Grall, are implementing technology and changing farming practices to reduce water use and remain profitable reported The Texas Tribune.  

Fireworks Safety Tips

Jun 30, 2013

The Fourth of July is Thursday.  Many will celebrate Independence Day with friends, family, and fireworks. 

Last call for wheat trading in Kansas City

Jun 27, 2013
KCBT

For 157 years, the price of most wheat grown on the plains has been set by the Kansas City Board of Trade. That will soon come to an end.

In October 2012, Chicago-based CME Group acquired the Kansas City Board of Trade. Operations move to Chicago as of July 1 – and the last call on the Kansas City trading floor takes place on Friday. Here's a look back at the long history of the Board of Trade – and the end of an era.

Deep roots in KC

Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute reported  federal officials will run the new health exchange for the state of Kansas, but Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said she has been in discussions to have complex calls roll over to her department.  Her goal is to connect Kansas consumers with local experts who are familiar with insurance plans and regulations specific to the state. 

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