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

Jonathan Goforth / flickr commons

The plains states rank well generally for income mobility according to a new study considered to be the most comprehensive yet on the subject.  Based on millions of anonymous income records, the study by leading economists found four primary factors correlated with higher income mobility in an area: a larger and more dispersed local middle class, more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups.

Estate taxes can complicate farm transitions

Jul 26, 2013
Kansas Poetry (Patrick) / Flickr

Welsh-born immigrant William R. Charles in 1868 fought an uphill battle with Indians and grasshoppers when he homesteaded 400 acres of well watered crop and timberland in Republic County, Kan., that his great-grandchildren farm today. The family’s first log cabin burned to the ground in December, 1869 and they dug through two feet of frozen dirt to find shelter.

Today, Charles’ grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their children are far flung from that homestead, Valley Point Farm, 240 miles northwest of Kansas City.

NW Kansas: Oil Pipeline Construction Begins in August

Jul 25, 2013
econintersect.com

An pipeline transporting oil from the Bakken production area of North Dakota and Eastern Montana to Cushing, Oklahoma cuts across Kansas.  A recent article in the Salina Journal said the purpose of the project is to transport domestic oil to domestic refineries. 

http://renews.biz/

EDF Renewable Energy agreed to buy the 200MW first phase of the Hereford Wind Project according to a recent ReNews article.  The purchase includes an option on the 300MW second phase. 

wikimedia.org

Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, New York, and Miami are no longer the immigration points for Hispanics and Latinos coming to the United States.  Kansas State University recently reported new patterns have developed.  Matthew Sanderson, associate professor of sociology at Kansas State University, is studying why rural areas, particularly southwest Kansas, have experienced large increases in Hispanic immigration. 

University of Houston

Texas crude may not be oozing to the surface, but scientists think they can find oil and gas deposits just by looking at dirt.

Scientists at the University of Houston are finding ways to use sophisticated analysis of satellite imagery to detect miniscule changes to the Earth' surface caused by mineral deposits below, StateImpact Texas reports.

www.city-data.com

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.

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