HPPR Economy and Enterprise

crop production
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Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
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small business development
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Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Wheat is one of the world’s staple foods and a big crop on the Great Plains, but it has been left in the dust. A corn farmer can grow 44 percent more bushels per acre than 30 years ago, but only 16 percent more wheat. That’s led many farmers to make a switch.

Colorado Public Radio

Consumers are expected to have a great month at the pump, according to Colorado Public Radio. That’s because gas prices are expected to keep falling in January. A report released Wednesday showed a sharp increase in gasoline inventories. Early this year companies added another eleven million barrels of gasoline. That created the biggest surge in supply since 1993.

Anthony Inswasty / Wikimedia Commons

Gas prices are expected to remain low this year, according to Colorado Public Radio. The average price at the pump is expected to range from $2.25 to $2.45 a gallon.

In 2015, crude oil prices fell by more than a third. The going rate for a barrel of crude currently sits at around $38. The continuing low gas prices are a result of the persistent low cost of oil.

Crude prices, too, are expected to remain low for much of the year.


According to the new rental report on ApartmentList.com, Texas rental growth is still on par with the nation overall. In Texas, apartment rental rates are now up over the last year by around 3 percent. The average price of a one bedroom in Texas is $1000. For a two bedroom, it’s $1070.

Addison is Texas’s most expensive city, with a median two bedroom price of $1740. Dallas is second.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

A couple of weeks ago more than 200 Muslim workers walked off their jobs at a Cargill meat plant in eastern Colorado. Now the vast majority of those workers have been fired, reports The Denver Post.

Joe Raedle / Newsmakers

Last Thursday marked a historic day for the Texas oil and gas industry, reports Bloomberg. The first U.S. shipment of crude oil to an overseas buyer departed Corpus Christi last week.

Despite Oil Sector Woes, Texas Economy Remains Afloat

Jan 4, 2016

despite a struggling oil sector, most Texas cities are still flying high according to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog.

Kansas City Star

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which stops at six cities in Kansas, posted a record year with more than 367,000 passengers on its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jayhawk state accounted for almost 50,000 of those passengers, a slight increase over last year. Nationwide, Amtrak carried almost 31 million passengers in 2015.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The High Plains and Southwest regions are no longer on top when it comes to the nation’s fastest-growing economies. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog, the downturn in the oil industry has pushed economic momentum toward the coasts.

J. Stephen Conn / Creative Commons

Texas is bracing for another oil bust, reports CNBC. The continued global oil-supply glut will likely weigh on Texas and the rest of the U.S. next year. But the latest crude-oil crash may not inflict as much damage as past downturns. Many parts of the state have now diversified away from crude-based economies.

Financial Predictions for the Coming Year

Dec 30, 2015
Flickr/Ars Electronica / Flickr Creative Commons

The economic website wallethub.com has published a list of economic predictions for 2016.

Colorado Farmers form Hemp Co-op

Dec 22, 2015
Creative Commons

Farmers in Northeast Colorado have formed a new kind of co-op, reports Colorado Public Radio. Several farmer have banded together to grow hemp in the region.

The growing of hemp became legal in the state in 2012, along with the growing of cannabis. Hemp, unlike cannabis, has no mind-altering properties. The plant can be used for clothing, soaps, food and other industrial uses. The Colorado farmers are hoping to build a hemp industry in the state.

National Christmas Tree Association

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins, Colo., neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

That’s about when she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. An act that terrifies U.S. Christmas tree growers.

KLA Membership Sets Direction on Key Issues

Dec 18, 2015
Montgomery County Planning Commission / Flickr Creative Commons

From Kansas Agland:

WICHITA – Members of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) approved resolutions on animal identification, taxes, noxious weeds and other issues affecting their business interests during the group’s annual business meeting Dec. 4 in Wichita. The organization’s policy process started with member input in committee and council meetings and ended with final approval from the general KLA membership.

Jacob Byk / The Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

With “bulletproof” weeds like palmer amaranth and kochia becoming ever more resistant across the Great Plains, farmers must focus on rotating modes of action, using pre-emergent herbicides and following the label when mixing products, experts say.

Positive Economic Report for High Plains States

Dec 16, 2015
Creative Commons

New economic data shows a strong report for High Plains states since the beginning of the great Recession in 2007. According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, all of the states in the Southern High Plains region fell below the national average in unemployment rate. Nebraska has by far the lowest rate, with 2.9 percent. Colorado is next, with 3.8 percent, followed by Kansas at 4.1 and Oklahoma at 4.3.

Allison McCartney / Reveal

A new venture from PRX and the Center for Investigative Reporting called Reveal has been producing shows of great interest to High Plains farmers and ranchers. One recent episode, “The Salmonella Shuffle” shows how the U.S. government still allows companies to sell chicken that is infected with salmonella.

Natalie Maynor / Flickr Creative Commons

Towns in western Oklahoma rely on two key factors to keep their economies running smoothly: agriculture and oil. When oil and gas profits plummet, communities suffer. Those in the oil industry are most directly affected, obviously. But the downturn can affect all industries. Equities.com recently profiled the town of Laverne in northwest Oklahoma. A Laverne oil pumping service called General Inc. recently laid off 15 percent of its workers, with more layoffs possible.

Western Kansas Wheat Crop Looking Good

Dec 10, 2015
KTIC radio

Western Kansas farmers have found themselves in a position they haven’t experienced in years, reports KTIC. The wheat crop is off to a healthy-looking start. Farmers aren’t sure if this early growth will translate into bushels next summer, but late November storms have left the wheat looking good.


Texas and Oklahoma panhandle ag people had a blast last week at the 2015 Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, reports Amarillo.com. The event showcases the newest and most technologically advanced farming and ranching equipment on the market. Amarillo sees the industry’s best, due to its status as one of the most productive ag areas in the world.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

After the patent on one of the most popular versions of genetically engineered soybeans expired this year, U.S. universities are creating new generic GMO soybean varieties, many of which are designed to guard against specific, local pests.

New Insurance Provision to Benefit Farmers

Dec 2, 2015
Candace Krebs / Ag Journal Online

  Ag Journal Online is reporting a new yield exclusion provision for calculating crop insurance coverage. The provision is coming to the aid of farmers just when they need it most. The new arrangement benefits wheat growers more than anyone else, explains a leading crop insurance analyst.

Tips for Farming on Small Acreage

Nov 30, 2015
Samuel M. Beebe/Ecotrust / Creative Commons

If you’re trying to farm or ranch on small acreage, The Center for Rural Affairs has published some ideas to help you get by. First, forget commodity crops. On a small plot, you need enterprises with a high profit margin. You might pay particular attention to grass-based livestock operations. These can entail lower production costs and can also tie into premium markets.

TX Consumers Reap Benefits as Gas Prices Fall

Nov 27, 2015

Households are expected to save $700 on average this year at the gas pumps, as compared to last year, reports Amarillo.com. And this Thanksgiving holiday, prices for goods and travel have fallen to levels not seen since 2007. OPEC began a price war with U.S. natural gas on Thanksgiving of last year. While the battle has been hard on oil workers, consumers have been the ultimate winners.

Tom Dorsey / Salina Journal

From Kansas Agland:

For decades, the nation's breadbasket has been sowing fewer and fewer acres to wheat.

That's evident on Paul Penner's Marion County farm - where he once planted 75 percent of his fields to wheat. These days, wheat has dropped to a third of his crop production.

The reason is simple, Penner says. Farmers see more profitability in crops like corn and soybeans.

Blue Bell's Largest Plant Resumes Operations

Nov 25, 2015
Brett Coomer / AP photo

Texas ice cream maker Blue Bell resumed operations last week at its largest plant, reports Reuters. The plant had previously been shut down due to a listeria outbreak. Six months ago, the outbreak halted the company's production and caused a panic among customers. 

Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

From Harvest Public Media:

About the authorRobert HollyReporter, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Robert Holly is a reporter with the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

KUT news

Texas lawmakers are trying to determine how much the decline in oil prices is hurting ranchers, reports KUT. The topic is one of the interim charges for the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock. That means, the committee has been asked to study the issue before the next legislative session.

Women-Owned Businesses Are Thriving, Study Shows

Nov 18, 2015

Women-owned businesses are booming in the US, reports the Center for Rural Affairs. As of 2012, there were almost ten million businesses in America owned by women. That’s a rise of almost 28 percent in just five years. Profits for these businesses were up by over a trillion dollars over the same period.

Mose Buchele

Texas’s state nut is looking to make a comeback. Pecans were all the rage in the 60s, but then the almond took over. Since then, the US almond crop has grown 33-fold. But now, StateImpact Texas reports that things are looking up for the Lone Star staple. The USDA has allowed the pecan industry to start something called a “federal marketing order.” This will allow pecan producers to pool their money and market their product.