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

USDA / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

If you’re unfamiliar with the show “The Walking Dead,” zombies (called "walkers" in the show universe) have taken over the landscape. Our cast of gun-toting survivors have been left holed-up in a suburban compound surrounded by large walls.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

There are mounting concerns about the direction of the farm economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farm income to fall for the third year in a row in 2016. At the same time, farmers are borrowing billions more from banks to get by.

American Energy Partners Limited

Oklahoma saw a tragic twist to an ignominious story last week. Legendary Oklahoma oil and gas pioneer Aubrey McClendon died following a traffic crash in Oklahoma City. As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, the crash came a day after McClendon was indicted for masterminding a conspiracy to rig the bidding process for oil and gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

The number of farms and ranches in the U.S. is on the decline and the farms that remain are getting bigger, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. has lost nearly 120,000 farms since 2008, and 18,000 last year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average farm size in the U.S. increased 5 percent over those 7 years, to an average size of 441 acres in 2015.

Thinkstock

There’s a new moneymaker on the High Plains, reports CBS news. It’s not a crop you plow or an animal you butcher. The new cash crop is technology. In fact, there’s been quite an explosion of startup software companies in the heartland recently. Some are calling it the "Silicon Prairie," and it's remaking cities from Des Moines to Kansas City to Lincoln.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas has fallen to $1.71. In Oklahoma, the prices could soon dip below a dollar. The state hasn’t seen average gasoline prices this low in 15 years.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

America's dairy farms are doing more with less. There are fewer dairy cows today than just a few decades ago, but today’s cows are churning out more milk than ever.

Part of the increase is due to genetics. Dairy cows have been bred to be larger, hungrier, and more productive. But that focus on genetics to produce more milk has some prominent livestock advocates ringing alarm bells.

The Top 1 Percent

James Watkins / Flickr Creative Commons

Support for crop insurance programs is nearly unanimous among farmers, reports The High Plains and Midwest Ag Journal. These same farmers also oppose any legislative attempts to undermine the risk management tool.

David McNew / Reuters

Of regional interest, in a world where marijuana is legal in many places, the way the drug is viewed by the public is changing. And along with these perceptions, the ways in which marijuana is sold, delivered and consumed are also changing.

Prowers Journal

New information is available concerning Colorado’s snowpack and reservoir levels. The Prowers Journal reports that the state’s water supply is in good shape. The information comes from a report released last week by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report, collective snowpack and reservoir levels for the state remain above average. Almost all of Colorado’s eight river basins also sit at above normal levels.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny town of Corn, Oklahoma, in Washita County has big problems. The lagoon that’s supposed to hold the town’s wastewater has holes in it, reports member station KOSU. Repairing the lagoon will take hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Corn doesn’t have the money. The tiny community will need to take out a loan to fix the water problem.

Nan Palmero / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas is home to the cities of the future, according to Texas Standard. A recent Forbes article attested that Texas has four of America’s next boom towns: Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Part of the reason for the growth is affordable real estate.

ElliotPhotos / Flickr Creative Commons

A movement has been growing across the nation over the past decades—an interest in building an agricultural system that benefits family farms and rural communities. A system that isn’t controlled by large, corporate interests. Nine states have passed laws restricting corporate farming, says the Center for Rural Affairs. Oklahoma has the oldest corporate farming law in the nation, dating back to the state’s inception in 1907.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Some Texas electricity plans are deceptively more pricey than they should be, reports The Texas Tribune. And now Texas regulators say they’re ready to crack down on power companies who try to fleece their customers.

www.philadelphiafed.org

Most US states enjoyed a strong economic finish to 2015, reports The Rural Blog. Among High Plains states, Kansas and Colorado experienced particularly robust growth of over one percent. In fact, these states had some of the fastest growth in the nation. Nebraska’s economy fell just short of the strong expansion in Kansas and Colorado, and Texas also experienced growth. Oklahoma’s economy remained unchanged.

Washington Post

Last month Walmart announced that it would close 154 stores. The majority of those stores are in poor rural areas, mostly in the Southeast, reports The Rural Blog. Now, some are wondering what these communities are supposed to do. When Walmart came in, many of these towns lost their mom-and-pop stores. These impoverished areas began to rely almost exclusively on their Walmarts for daily needs.

Rural Blog

Of regional interest, in a reversal of a long-running trend, Chinese citizens are leaving the cities and returning to rural areas, reports The Rural Blog.

The flight to the countryside is due to many factors, including a faltering Chinese economy, high cost of living in the cities, and high rates of air pollution. In addition, China’s economy isn’t growing as fast as it once did, and urban manufacturing jobs are becoming more scarce.

The Fight Against Broadleaf Weeds in Winter Wheat

Feb 9, 2016
agriculturewire.com

From Kansas Agland:

Most of the wheat and weeds are inactive during cold weather; however, that can quickly change in the Midwest. While broadleaf weeds are dormant, wheat producers can get a jump-start on managing them in winter wheat.

Mose Buchele / KUT news

Since the birth of Texas cattle rustlers have been a scourge in the state. But now, reports KUT, the slumping oil market has given rise to a new kind of criminal in South Texas: oil rustlers. Thieves have been sneaking into well sites and stealing the crude oil, and it’s becoming a big problem.

amarillolivestockauction.com

There’s a new online auction that could shake up the U.S. pricing model for cattle, reports globalpost.com. The auction made its public debut last week after a test run, with the support of the world's largest meatpacker. Exchange-operator CME Group Inc said the online auction was an effort to improve cattle futures after complaints about extreme volatility.

dailyonder.com

Swaths of western Kansas saw a rise in unemployment over the past year, reports Kansas Agland. The increased jobless rate was concentrated in northwest Kansas and parts of southeast Kansas, according to data from the Department of Labor. Meanwhile, unemployment rates fell in northeast Kansas and the southcentral part of the state. During the past year the overall unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent to 3.9.

Prowers Journal

Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point in December to 3.5 percent, reports The Prowers Journal. During the same period, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged from at 5.0 percent. Two southeast Colorado counties—Baca and Kiowa—had the lowest posted unemployment percentages in the state. Otero County had an exceptionally high rate, at 6.7 percent.

Tommaso Galli / Flickr Creative Commons

As the price of oil continues to drop, Politico asked a number of experts what the hidden consequences of the crash would be. Their answers varied.

John McLaughlin of Johns Hopkins University said every indication is that prices will not go up markedly. They may even drop further.

Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group says Middle East political structures are brittle and based on oil wealth. He asked, what keeps these countries together when the oil money runs out?

Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Worried about the price of wheat on the global market, Midwest farmers are planting less wheat.

Nationwide, farmers seeded about 5 million fewer acres in wheat this planting season than they did two years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Winter Wheat Seedings Report (PDF) issued Tuesday.

Yahoo News

Oil has become incredibly plentiful and cheap recently. So cheap, in fact, that at least one company has suggested that buyers should be paid to take a certain type of low-quality crude. The company is owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Laura Buckman / New York Times

Texas is a place where wealth is often measured in acres instead of dollars. And for the past several decades, land prices have followed the price of oil. But oil prices have now collapsed from more than $100 a barrel 18 months ago, to a mere $29 a barrel. And The New York Times reports that some investors are seeing the oil bust as a real estate opportunity.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The massive Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal could require some countries to accept more genetically engineered crops.

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement in history, and while not yet approved by Congress, includes the U.S. and 11 other countries along the Pacific Ocean. 

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Driving an oilfield truck in Oklahoma can be deadly, reports member station KGOU. In the past eight years, 36 people in the state have died in crashes involving trucks hauling oilfield wastewater and equipment. According to recent data, seven percent of all truck companies licensed for oil-field work in Oklahoma have been involved in fatal accidents.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.

Much like other Web-based companies like Airbnb or Uber, a site dedicated to leasing and using farm equipment is making available expensive machinery during the times producers need it most. And the idea is taking root as crop and livestock prices trend lower and costs climb higher.

CPR / Hart Van Denburg

Colorado’s construction industry continues to thrive, reports Colorado Public Radio. Four out of five construction firms in the state expect to hire more workers this year, according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Colorado construction is at higher levels than the national average. 81% of all firms surveyed plan to add workers.

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