HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Phil Cauthon / Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment approved the expansion of Seaboard Farms’ Ladder Creek hog farm according to a recent article from the Kansas Health Institute.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. Villains in trench coats scheme ways to cause the most destruction and chaos. They settle on a food company, an easy target, and plan to lace the products with a chemical or pathogen. The hero finds out the plan with enough time to save the day.

Barb Blevins / High Plains Public Radio

This week we begin a four-part series about the importance of expanding local food production and teaching people to learn to feed themselves whenever possible.  We'll start by visiting Beaver Creek Ranch in Rawlins County, Kansas.  This agritourism business operated by Jeff and Alice Hill includes a hunting lodge, a full-service family farm complete with fruit and vegetable gardens, poultry, beef and pork production, organic hard red winter wheat production, and a demonstration site for a system called Full Circle Aquaponics.  The day I arrived the place was really humming, thanks to the bee hives that provide pollination and honey.  Join us as we visit a fascinating place.

blog.heartland.org

Texas is the nation’s top energy producer.  It could also be the leader in slashing emissions of methane.  But it’s unlikely that state environmental regulators will embrace the opportunity according to a recent article from the Texas Tribune.  

JILL JOHNSON / LANDOV

A new study by the University of Texas at San Antonio found that placing wind turbines too closely together in a wind farm causes turbulence that reduces productivity according to a recent article by StateImpact Texas.  

blogs.democratandchronicle.com

Tri Global Energy and BNSF Railway have joined forces to create a clearinghouse for wind energy equipment east of Plainview, Texas according to The Amarillo Globe-News

FILIPA RODRIGUES / StateImpact Texas

A growing population and inadequate electricity supply has kept a looming energy crisis over Texans.  Rolling blackouts would come, or so it was predicted.  This month, a report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) release its annual forecast of how much electricity Texas will have in the coming years, and thing don’t look so bad according to StateImpact Texas.

Michael Stravato / nytimes.com

Small, abandoned refineries dot the High Plains, but the domestic oil boom of domestic light-crude is breathing new life into some of them said a recent article in the New York Times.  

amarillo.com

A cloning project at West Texas A&M University is poised to enter the next phase of creating cattle that will produce top quality beef recently reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

tacticalminc.com

In Kansas, The Kansas Health Institute recently reported that more than 10,000 Kansans applied or Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) in January.  That is an increase of 20% over the monthly average since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace was launched.

wvut.org

Folks living in rural areas across the High Plains know when the weather is warm, propane is cheap.  When it gets cold, both demand and the price go up.  But, this season the price skyrocketed to unheard of levels due to the combination of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, wet corn, and a string of winter storms. according to a recent article from StateImpact Oklahoma.

mysafetysign.com

Hydrochloric acid is commonly using in horizontal drilling because it’s relatively cheap, but companies are looking for safer alternatives to protect workers and the environment reported StateImpact Oklahoma

Mark Holm / nytimes.com

Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico have until the end of the year to improve the railroad track or lose the Southwest Chief passenger rail line.  According to The New York Times Amtrak has asked the three states to put up $40 million over the next 20 years to help pay for track upgrades and maintenance to keep the track viable.  Unless all three states pitch in, Amtrak says it will potentially drop nine small-town stations in favor of existing track in Texas and Oklahoma. 

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The average age of American farmers has been climbing for decades, and many say rural towns are at-risk without new blood. There are enough people who want to farm, but there’s trouble connecting beginning farmers and the communities that need them.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a frigid winter day, Chad Hart tries to warm his economics students at Iowa State University to the idea of managing some of the risk of farming using the commodity markets. Because, as he told them on the first day of class, farmers don’t make money planting or harvesting crops; they make money selling them. And Hart knows that marketing—managing those sales for the best profit—can be intimidating.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to keeping data secure, farmers are worried about some of the same issues as the rest of us. Precision data from the farm could help drive new levels of productivity, but farmers have to decide just how much they want to share.

Precision agriculture started with satellite-guided tractors and maps recording pinpoint levels of grain yields during harvest. But farmers like Dave Beck are taking the next step.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

The growth of the dairy industry across the High Plains has been a boon to the economy and communities of the region.  Urbanization and increasing regulation in states such as California are often cited as the reason for the migration of large dairies to our area.  But there’s also on overall industry consolidation underway that’s driving out small producers from nearby states, including dairyman Donnie Davidson and others in Missouri, as profiled in this story from Harvest Public Media.

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Donnie Davidson’s family has been producing bottled milk in Holden, Mo., since the 1930s. But the 63-year-old farmer decided to sell his herd of 50 milking cows in November after the roof on one of his barns collapsed from last winter’s snow.

Ben Hasson / Texas Tribune

50% of households in Texas are "liquid-asset poor," or lack the savings to pay for three months of basic expenses, according to a report released last week by a non-profit that seeks to alleviate poverty.

Travel Aficionado / Flickr

On December 31, the federal production tax credit for renewable energy expired. In Oklahoma, this stimulated 12,300 megawatts of wind projects to begin construction ahead of the deadline.

propane.pro

The cost of propane is breaking records.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) lists the current average price nationwide at just over four dollars per gallon.  That’s more than a dollar higher than last week said a recent article in StateImpact Oklahoma.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops this year. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business. Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Matthew Starver / nytimes.com

The National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, has been a diamond in the crown of cowboy life for over 100 years.  It also is a reflection of the way life is changing at home on the range.  

amarillo.com

The United Supermarket location on South Soncy Road will bring about 250 new jobs to Amarillo according to the Amarillo Globe-News.  The supermarket will be hosting a job fair from Jan. 27 through Feb. 7 at Redeemer Christian Church located at 3701 South Soncy Road.

Global bumper wheat crop brings lower prices

Jan 19, 2014
jayneadd/Flickr

Talk to any corn farmer and he or she will likely lament the dropping price of corn. But corn growers are not alone. Farmers who grow wheat are beginning to feel the same pinch.

oklahomafarmreport.com

Oklahoma ranks number five in the nation when it comes to the number of cattle, but years of drought and high market prices are fueling a sell-off, and experts worry that the $4.5 billion dollar industry is in a downward spiral that will be difficult to recover from according to an article from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Jason Baker / Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo

While timely rains have the Texas wheat crop looking much better this year, however the drought and cold may have done some damage to winter crops reported AgriLife Today.

Retailers look to sell sustainability of food

Jan 17, 2014
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Consumers are increasingly willing to pay more for foods they believe were sustainably produced, like free-range chicken, fair-trade coffee and pesticide-free wine. But what does “sustainable” actually mean?

Kevin Welch / amarillo.com

Google recently announced it will be purchasing even more wind power from the Texas Panhandle.  The company’s goal is to be powered 100% by renewable energy.  Inline with that goal, the company invested $75 million  in the Panhandle 2 wind farm located outside Amarillo according to the Amarillo Globe-News.

thecommonvision.org

Colorado is the first jurisdiction anywhere in the world to have a legal, regulated marked for recreational marijuana.  20 other states, and Washington, DC, allow the use of medical marijuana, but how does Colorado’s marijuana market function?  The Economist explains:

Monsanto.com

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S. They would help farmers control weeds that are no longer killed by the popular herbicide, Roundup.

Roundup resistant crops dominate corn, soybean and cotton production in the U.S. But the list of weeds that have evolved to withstand Roundup is growing, and as a result, farmers are using more chemicals to keep up.

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