HPPR Economy and Enterprise

crop production
crop irrigation
livestock production
dairy production
research & development

oil & gas production
wind energy
biofuels production
food processing

Transportation & telecommunications
rail service
air service
internet service

Economic indicators & conditions:
workforce demographics
employment rates
land values
tax collections

small business development
technology application

There could be changes on the horizon for the Beef Check Off program.


Have you ever wondered how much energy your state produces, consumes, and expends?  The U.S. Energy Information Administration has created a series of state level maps detailing these facts. 

Here are some quick facts:


MOSE BUCHELE / StateImpact Texas

The shock of lower gas prices has probably worn off by now, but have you noticed the small, unbranded gas stations are often the first to lower their prices?  Many of them stay competitive even when the name-brands cut their prices. 

KUT News is helping explain why stations offer different prices for essentially the same product by taking us on a trip from the pump back to the pipeline to see how gas is bought, sold and transported.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. There’s evidence that different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine and hope that its chemical compounds could hold keys to treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

Scientists studying industrial hemp say the plant holds a tremendous amount of promise. But to unlock its potential there’s very basic scientific research to be done.


There is disparity when comparing broadband access in urban and rural America.  The gap gets even bigger when it comes to access on the farm reports Choices Magazine.

Data suggests 100 percent of urban residents have access to at least one broadband provider… compared to 78 percent of rural residents.

Take it a step further.  On the farm 70 percent of farms in 2012 had internet access, but it’s the level of service that varies.  Seven percent of farmers use dial-up, 13 percent satellite, and 13 percent mobile broadband.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State finance official in Oklahoma are worried about the plummeting price of crude.  State ImpactOklahoma reports they are projecting budget cuts and potential job losses.

In the oil field, some energy companies are slashing spending while others try to weather what they hope will be a short downturn.

Gov. Mary Fallin met with top officials in December to certify tax revenues for state budget planning.  Estimates now show a revenue loss of about $300 million.  If oil prices stay low, state agencies could face steep cuts.


The price of a barrel of oil is in a free fall according to KUT News.  The U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell below $50 early this week... matching levels of spring 2009.

The drop is linked to OPEC’s boosted production and a stronger dollar. 

OPEC member nations production increases are an effort to protect their market share and undercut American profits.  Both Iraq and Russia are producing crude at record levels.

The dollar’s increased value is at a nine year high against the euro.  Reasons for that gain are renewed instability in Greece and the possibility that the European Central Bank could introduce quantitative easing to stimulate the eurozone.


The Chevron plant in Borger, Texas is under new ownership reports the Amarillo Globe News

Chevron Phillips Chemical and international giant, Solvay, announced this week they have completed a $220 million deal including Chevron’s Ryton plant.

The Ryton plant makes a component of plastics from chemicals found in natural gas.  Most employees of the facility will transfer to Solvay says a company spokeswoman.

Helen H. Richardson / denverpost.com

Farmers are getting older.  At one time, the physical challenges driving them from the farm are now being overcome with the help of a program called the AgrAbility Project reports the Denver Post.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 22-state program helps older, disabled farmers stay on the job as long as possible. 

538 individuals have been helped in Colorado where the program is a joint effort of Goodwill Industries of Denver and Colorado State University. 

Nu-Life Market

Grain sorghum has long been a step-child crop to wheat and corn on the High Plains, used mainly as a secondary cattle feed and ethanol distilling grain.  But its status may be improving with the growing gluten-free food movement, for which sorghum is ideally suited.

However, capturing this food-grade, certified food market is no easy task.  That’s evident in the sophisticated business and production model developed by Nu-Life Market, a “farm-to-fork” enterprise operating in Scott County, Kansas. 

Post Foods

Demand for products that don’t contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.  

Many food companies are seeking certification that their products don’t have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even plain Cheerios, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.

There’s one High Plains commodity that’s likely to have another good year in 2015 – beef tongue sales to Japan. Exports were up 150 percent in 2013 and on track to rise even higher in 2014. And demand continues to grow, as do the ways of eating beef tongue in Japan, as this feature article from McClatchy DC explains:


  To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Corn, wheat and rice make up some of the most crucial ingredients to diets across the world. With a booming global population, FAO says in the next 35 years farmers will need to ratchet up production of these three commodities to 3 billion tons – that’s half a billion tons more than the record harvest of 2013.

Conserving water and reviving a community

Dec 24, 2014

Across the country, farmers know that every drop of water counts. To help conserve this resource, one dairy in Western Kansas decided to take a chance on a one-of-its-kind partnership, which not only saved water, but also brought new life to its community.

In 2012, McCarty Family Farms in Rexford, partnered with Dannon to build a condensed milk processing plant that extracts more than 14 million gallons of water from the milk each year.

Real Science / realscience.us

The $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill President Obama signed Wednesday isn’t just about dollars and cents. The so-called “Cromnibus” bill also keeps school cafeteria fries salty and limits the government's ability to monitor cow belches.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

As drought, feed costs, and urban development wear on West Coast milk producers, states like Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa are pitching themselves as a dairy heaven. Even in California, the nation’s No. 1 dairy state, many dairy farmers are listening.

For the Midwest, an influx of dairies isn’t just about milk. It’s about pumping dollars into the rural economy.

California dairies look to Plain’s greener pastures

Dec 17, 2014
Ezra David Romero for Harvest Public Media

California is branded as the state with happy cows, but increasingly, not necessarily happy dairy owners. For many of them in the nation’s No. 1 dairy state it’s getting tougher to make a living, that’s why some are some selling their cattle and heading to the Midwest.

A full quarter of California dairies have been shuttered since 2007, according to Michael Marsh, CEO of Western United Dairymen.

Larry Dreiling / hpj.com

Some things are easily taken for granted— running down to the grocery store when you’re out of milk.  That’s now true in Morland, Kansas.  After an eight year absence, the town of 150 now has a grocery store.  Morland isn’t an isolated case.  There are about 200 little stores in the state in communities with populations under 2,000.  There are also, places like Morland that no longer have grocery retailers.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

For the Midwest’s biggest crops, this harvest season was a big one. With winter setting in, the race is on for farmers to ship out their harvest so it’s not left out to spoil. But the giant harvest and a lack of available rail cars have created a traffic jam on the rails and the highways.

Usually, famers store their harvest in silos and grain bins, but this year, farmers brought in so much, there’s just no room.  Farmers in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and South Dakota are all being hit particularly hard by the storage shortage.

Oklahomans are apparently the “bigger spenders” among the states in the HPPR region.  That distinction is based on analysis by economists for the website wallethub.com, which ranked Oklahoma as 17th among the fifty states for personal spending level, adjusted for income and the costs of living.  Other area states are close by, although Colorado lags in the spending ranking:

L. Brian Stauffer / www.news.illinois.edu

The FAA’s proposed rules for flying drones pose a basic problem for rural users.  The rules are based on two purposes of use, hobby versus commercial, rather than where the drone is being flown, a wide open rural area versus near an urban airport.  Consequently, many potential rural uses such as checking crops or inspecting powers lines will fall under the proposed commercial rules applied to all areas of the U.S.


The Texas Beef Council is turning its attention to attracting younger eaters.  The Texas Tribune reports beef consumption is down.  Gone are the days of Fred Flintstone rib eye slabs that were common in the 1970s.

Northern Colorado Food Cluster

More cities want to take eating local food from just a hip trend to an economic generator. But as with many grassroots movements, there can be some growing pains along the way. That has some looking to the tech sector for lessons, as Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports.

Transcript of the audio story:

Mike Lee

Mike Lee steers his plane over the Missouri-Arkansas state line, checking out a checkerboard of green and brown fields of rice, cotton, corn and soybeans. Lee is the owner of Earl’s Flying Service, a crop dusting business in Steele, Mo., and he’s scouting some farm fields that his pilots will treat later in the day.

Quentin Hope

  The cost of producing and providing electricity generated by solar panels and wind turbines has plunged in recent years, and are on track to meet — and in some markets are already beating — the generation costs of conventional sources like coal and natural gas.

Ohio State University / http://agcrops.osu.edu/corn

Climate change could double losses to crops and property by the year 2100 according to a recent report from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office. When farmers lose more crops, it costs taxpayers more to subsidize their crop insurance.

Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

Farmers raised fewer turkeys this year than they have in the past three decades - about 235 million gobblers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ann Knowles raised 70 broad breasted bronze and white turkeys on her small farm in western Illinois.

She coops up the plump birds at night to guard against predators, but lets them roam freely during the day.

Quentin Hope

After getting pummeled by drought and low cattle prices, many ranchers across the Midwest are eager to grow their herds. As they do, grass is turning into a hot commodity.


There’s an ap for everything- even ag.  Think of this: without ever leaving the field, a farmer can pull out his smart phone and identify insects, crop diseases, or even assess the nutrient value of manure.  He can also calculate crop maturity, seed planting to attain the highest yield, and pesticide droplet size and potential pesticide drift.

Conestoga Energy Partners; www.conestogaenergy.com/bonanza-bioenergy

The Environmental Protection Agency said last Friday that it won’t release rules for how much ethanol oil refiners have to mix in to our gasoline supply this year.

The ethanol rules, called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), are meant to prop up the U.S. biofuels industry by creating demand for ethanol. Without the rules, both oil companies and the biofuel sector will be left in the dark as to what the demand for ethanol will be.