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

Ann Saphir / Reuters

Oil prices are creeping up, and that means energy companies are tentatively starting to drill again, Reuters reports. Many drillers are starting to be optimistic that this time they really are on the other end of the horrific two-year slump. The downturn has caused oil outfits to shed employees and hemorrhage profits. Now as wells in the West Texas Permian Basin are again becoming profitable, producers are finally taking baby steps to crank up output.

Paul Lowry / Texas Tribune

Slumping oil prices aren’t just hurting oil and gas companies. Many landowners see the effects when they visit their mailbox, reports The Texas Tribune. The energy downturn is eating into the monthly checks royalty owners receive for oil production on their property. However, while it’s little comfort, the slowing income can also mean their tax bills will plummet.

Megg / Flickr Creative Commons

From Harvest Public Media:

Expansion in the country’s beef cattle herd is bringing cheaper meat prices to the grocery store just in time for the summer grilling season, but those reduced prices might get some scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data show the price of ground beef is down about 30 cents per pound compared to last year.

USDA / Rural Blog

Many rural areas in America are becoming less reliant on agriculture and more oil and gas dependent, reports The Rural Blog. According to the USDA, over the last ten years the number of farming dependent counties in the US has dropped. In that same period, the number of mining-dependent counties grew by 60 percent.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The 21st century farm has come a long way from a simple matter of sowing and reaping. To keep up with the future, notes NetNebraska, many farmers are employing business school techniques. For example, David Muth of Ames, Iowa, breaks down his farm operation into individual one-acre datasets.

Sandra J. Milburn / AP photo

The largest electric utility in the state of Kansas has been sold, reports USA TODAY. In a deal worth almost $9 billion, Westar Energy will be acquired by Kansas City-based Great Plains Energy.

Organic Trade Association

A new study shows that organic agriculture boosts local economies, reports The Rural Blog. The study looked at counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity. Researchers then looked at how these organic hotspots impact the local economies. The study discovered that being in an “organic hotspot” increased median household income by more than $2,000 a year. Organic farming was also found to lower a county's poverty rate.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The country’s top agriculture official, Tom Vilsack, is declining to comment on some of the largest  mergers the farm economy has ever seen.


The US Department of Agriculture has been touting the recent expansion of the meat trade in the US. But the agency has only been highlighting the positives of the trade increase. As The Rural Blog reports, the nation has been importing more beef than it exports in recent months. In a recent column, two professors from the University of Tennessee said they understand that the USDA may want to put a positive spin on the situation.

Ariana Brocious / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Every spring farmers and ranchers intentionally burn their fields to jumpstart the natural process of renewal. But those fires can be dangerous. That’s why researchers in Nebraska are designing a new drone to start fires, which may help protect people and the environment.

Colorado’s jobless rate ticked up slightly last month. The number now sits at 3.1 percent. That’s still almost two and a half percentage points below the national average of 5.5 percent. The slight upward movement marks the first time the unemployment rate has increased in five years, reports Colorado Public Radio.

James M. Dobson / Garden City Telegram

With all the recent rains, farmers in southwest Kansas have a bright outlook for the wheat crop and summer harvest, reports The Garden City Telegram. Finney County farmer Jarvis Garetson called the April showers a godsend. “It changed our dryland crops from poor conditions to very good,” he said.

fieldsbh / Flickr Creative Commons

The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer is coming to Texas, reports FuelFix.com. China-based Goldwind is planning to establish what will be its largest wind farm in the US, and has chosen the Lone Star State as the location.

Sandra J. Milburn / Hutchinson News

From Kansas Agland:

ST. JOHN – For about two months of the year, Stafford County farmer Jordan Hickel would run his pricey combine through wheat fields in June, followed by fall commodities like corn and soybeans.

Then the machine would sit silent in the shed, awaiting the next harvest season.

Wikimedia Commons

An aviation company in Amarillo is in talks for a deal with the federal government that could bring as much as $100 billion to the region, reports Amarillo.com. Bell Helicopter could possibly soon begin producing as many as 4,000 aircraft for the United States Army. The deal hinges on Bell’s parent, Textron, beating out Boeing for the contract.

Prowers Journal

A wind turbine east of Lamar, Colorado, went offline last week, reports The Prowers Journal. The culprit? Metal shavings. Repairs are expected to cost about $300,000.

Corn planting in Princeton, Ill., last month. / Bloomberg News

Farmland values have fallen sharply in parts of America’s heartland, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago cites the recent period as the sharpest drop in Midwestern cropland values in almost three decades. Over the past two years, farm incomes have steadily declined. Investors who had piled into the asset a few years ago have begun to retreat. As a result, low prices are weighing down land values from Kansas to Indiana.

Pew Research Center / businessinsider.com

Over the course of this young century, the gap in American cities between the haves and have-nots has continues to widen, reports Business Insider. The Pew Research Center recently analyzed Census Bureau data, looking at the state of the middle class in America's metropolitan areas.

Nick Oxford / Reuters

As Oklahoma’s earthquake frequency exploded, so did the rates of insurance companies covering the damages. Reuters reporter Luc Cohen recently examined thousands of pages of documents from the Oklahoma Insurance Commission.

Flickr Creative Commons

In honor of Mother’s Day this past weekend, the personal finance website WalletHub has compiled a list of the best and worst states for working moms. A couple of High Plains states fared well on the list, landing in the top 10.


Graduation ceremonies are happening this month, and employers are planning to hire 11 percent more college grads this year over last.

Washington Post

The US has, for the most part, recovered from the housing crisis that sent the economy reeling in 2008. However, as The Washington Post notes, the recovery has been deeply uneven. And the winners and losers tend to come down along race, income and geography lines. In many cities the housing market’s changes have deepened disparities between the rich and everyone else.

Brian McGuirk / Flickr Creative Commons

The Wheat Quality Council’s annual hard red winter tour began last week across the High Plains, reports High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal. The event was founded in 1938 with the goal of improving wheat quality in the US. The tour posted a record number of stops this year—and finished up with some good news. 2016 showed the best day one yield result in four years.


Kansas’s winter wheat crop has received a timely boost from Mother Nature, reports The Garden City Telegram. After threats of a returning drought, recent rains brought yearly rain totals up past normal amounts for this time of year.


In today’s advanced world it’s important to ensure your business’s records and information are adequately secure. To that end, the Center for Rural Affairs has published a list of Cybersecurity Tips from the Small Business Administration.

woodlywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons

From Harvest Public Media:

You’re about to start paying less for eggs at the grocery store because egg farms are recovering from last year’s bird flu outbreak a bit faster than expected.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Science’s hottest new tool looks like it will be coming soon to the Corn Belt.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The population of Northern Colorado is booming. People are flocking to the area and population numbers are on the rise.

The same thing is happening with dairy cows.


Amarillo is one of the best cities in America for Hispanic entrepreneurs, according to WalletHub. The personal finance website conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best Cities for Hispanic Entrepreneurs. Amarillo just missed the top ten, falling at number eleven on the list.

Dayton Daily News

Just three years after Colorado enacted sweeping marijuana legalization legislation, a faction of lawmakers in the state are looking to overhaul the law, reports The Durango Herald. The group has expressed concern about certain aspects of the current legislation. The nearly 50-page proposal has been referred to as a “wish list” by many observers. The proposal is titled, simply, “Concerning Marijuana.”