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

Boot Hill Distillery

Boot Hill Distillery calls itself a “soil-to-sip” distillery because it is owned by three western Kansas farmers who grow 100 percent of the grain used in crafting its spirits, which has proven to be a winning formula, as the startup recently received national recognition for its vodka.

“We do all the milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and bottling here on site,” said Mark Vierthaler, director of marketing and distiller at Boot Hill Distillery. “So it’s 100 percent a western Kansas product, which we’re very proud of.”

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The Trump Administration is voicing its support for the ethanol industry, but without specifics it is hard to say what that means exactly for Midwest farmers.

In a letter (PDF) to industry leaders gathered at the National Ethanol Conference, President Donald Trump said renewable fuels “are essential to America’s energy strategy.”

The president wrote that he aims to reduce the regulatory burden on the renewable fuels industry, but did not detail specific plans.

Chuck Grimmett / Creative Commons

Getting weed in Colorado is getting easier with a drive-through marijuana shop and could get even easier with a proposed bill that would allow it to be delivered to one’s front door.

As The Denver Post reports, the western Colorado town of Parachute is getting a drive-through marijuana shop, believed to be the first in the state.

Daniel Acker / Bloomberg News

Last week, for the first time ever, the Great Plains derived more power from wind turbines than it did from any other source.

As Bloomberg reports, last Sunday the vast power grid stretching from Montana to the Texas Panhandle reportedly received 52 percent of its energy from wind sources.

KVII

Amarillo is experiencing a small business boom, reports KVII.

David Dickerson, Assistant Director of the Small Business Development Center at West Texas A&M, noted that a number of new locally owned operations have popped up downtown, and in south Amarillo. The Town Square Village on Soncy Road, on the western edge of town, has also seen rapid growth.

According to the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce, over 100 new businesses have joined the Chamber since last year.

Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

It’s a classic conundrum that comes up every time you’re cleaning out the fridge: the package label says the food is past its prime, but it’s not moldy or smelly.

Do you give it a chance or toss it in the trash?

For a great number of consumers it’s the latter, but now some of the largest food retail trade groups are hoping to settle the score and clear up the confusion in hopes of keeping more food in bellies, rather than sending heaps of food to landfills.

iStockphoto

A Kansas mother testified before Kansas lawmakers Monday about legalizing marijuana for medical use.

As KSN reports, Melissa Ragsdale’s 7-year-old son has been using legal hemp oil to relieve symptoms of epilepsy.

Ragsdale, who along with others testified before the Senate’s health and human services committee Monday, said that while her son has improved, more is needed.

Hitchhacking / Flickr Creative Commons

As Colorado’s oil and gas industry begins to recover from one of the hardest downturns in recent memory, some communities have launched fights against proposed projects that they say are larger in scale.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, residents of Garfield County and the cities of Greeley and Broomfield have launched fights against proposed projects.

Amy Bickel

With their water wells dropping, two farmers from the far southwest corner of Kansas flew a 1967 Cessna Wednesday morning to Topeka – all in support of hemp.

Farmers Darren Buck and Reid Shrauner didn’t have quite the journey as some of their fellow Morton County residents, who left before sunlight to support a bill that they think could boost their county’s struggling economy and extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer.

CGP Grey / Flickr Creative Commons

Oil prices appear to be rebounding from their slump, leading to optimism in High Plains oil fields.

But, as The New York Times reports, there’s one important element of the recovery that still hasn’t come through: jobs.

Frac sand in demand with uptick in oil rigs

Feb 20, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

With an uptick in oil rigs, concerns about the supply of frac sand, the key component of drilling, are also arising.

As Business Insider reports, oil producers have added hundreds of rigs in U.S. oil fields from Texas to North Dakota. A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. rig count hit 591, the highest since October of 2015.

Clinic for refugees opens in Garden City

Feb 20, 2017
City of Garden City, KS

There’s a new clinic in Garden City, Kansas that aims to provide the community’s refugee population with healthcare and language services.  

As the Garden City Telegram reports, Dr. John Birky, CEO of the New Hope Together clinic, said the organization is dedicated to improving the physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic well-being of refugees in the community through healthcare services, English language learning and mutually beneficial relationships.

Floflo88 / Wikimedia Commons

An editorial in The Dallas Morning News is calling cattle ranchers “the first casualties of Trump's trade wars.”

Texas State University Journalism Professor Richard Parker noted several ways that Trump’s trade policy may hurt beef markets.

Tim Evanson / Flickr Creative Commons

Like other High Plains states, Colorado’s oil and gas economy is in a position to help propel it forward.

As The Denver Post reports, oil prices rose after recent OPEC production cuts and are now high enough to motivate producers to put more rigs to work and translate into more domestic production, said Erica Bowman, chief economist with the American Petroleum Institute.

Creative Commons CC0

Small farming operations are benefiting from mobile technologies geared toward addressing challenges they face, from production to financial services to market access.

Steve Sisney / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma has jumped to third in the state rankings, when it comes to wind power production.

As The Oklahoman reports, the Sooner State leapfrogged California to take the third spot. That’s no small feat, given that California bests Oklahoma in land area, population, and general economic might.

Creative Commons CC0

Even though transitioning from traditional to organic farming methods can be costly, Colorado farmers are increasingly doing so in order to meet rising demand for organic produce.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado’s organic agricultural industry has more than doubled in sales – from $66.2 million in 2012 to $155.2 million in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Certified Organic Survey.

Where Is the Wheat Market Headed? Brace yourself

Feb 10, 2017
Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

I don’t think there’s anybody on the planet who thought the wheat market could go as low as it did this past year.

But when it decided to go low, it did so with a great deal of passion. It headed right for $2.50 and just kept clawing away day after day till it got there. And just to punctuate its success, it decided to keep on going down. I should have taken a picture of my computer screen when it showed cash wheat in Dighton, KS at $2.20 a bushel. Who would have ever believed that? I hadn’t seen prices that low since 1977 when wheat in Dighton in February was $2.17 a bushel.

Layton Ehmke

Following months and months of incredibly dry weather, the good news is that much of Kansas finally got some badly needed rain, ice and snow several weeks ago back in January. With that precip, the wheat plant roots are finally starting to grow.

And it looks like a fair amount of the Kansas wheat crop now has a future.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

How low can it go?

That’s what many in farm country asked about the farm economy Tuesday, after the Agriculture Department forecast another plunge this year in profits for farmers.

Net farm income will fall 8.7 percent from last year’s levels, according to the year’s first forecast produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). If realized, that would mark the fourth-straight year of profit declines, after 2013 saw record-highs.

Colorado State University

A Colorado State University crop and soil scientist recently secured funding for sites in northeastern Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska to look at ways diversifying crop rotations and using cover crops can maintain yields, keep soils productive, reduce environmental impacts and address retention of soil carbon and water.

Megan Schipanski, CSU crop and soil scientist, applied for the grant and extension personnel on the High Plains will be assisting in local areas by providing a solid producer base for onsite research

Creative Commons CC0

A western Kansas farming family struggling to keep their fifth-generation farming operation afloat amidst a slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices is featured in a Wall Street Journal article about the struggling farm economy.

The ongoing slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices, caused by global oversupply, is putting many farmers in debt and in some cases, resulting in farm closures.

Is organic meat more humane than conventionally raised meat?

Rules that would create animal welfare standards for livestock certified as organic have been delayed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday, giving opponents new hope that they will be quashed.

CC0 Public Domain

Options are available to those interested in getting into farming or ranching.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA), alternative crops and high value markets offer profit potential and lower risk for new farmers.

Energy Central

The number of jobs supported by the wind industry has cracked the 100,000 mark, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

As Energy Central reports, the milestone means wind power now employs more workers than nuclear, natural gas, coal, or hydroelectric power plants. And one out of every four of those wind workers are employed in the state of Texas.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

TOPEKA – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Kansas Department of Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey are urging government officials to consider that Kansas landowners have implemented efforts to protect the lesser prairie chicken and that a threatened or endangered listing is not warranted.

In rural Nebraska, over 70 percent of the state’s net job growth come from people creating their own jobs, by owning their own businesses, but a current law is undermining the success of small business by favoring online retailers.

Aurelijus Valeiša / Creative Commons

Amazon will soon begin charging a sales tax in the Sooner State, reports The Oklahoman.

The online retailing behemoth will start collecting the tax beginning on March first. But, unfortunately, those extra collected funds will not go toward easing the burden of Oklahoma’s massive budget shortfall.

That’s because the extra Amazon revenue was already built into Oklahoma’s budget estimates.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Perhaps no one is as aware of the climate and its impact on the earth than a farmer.

The New York Times recently featured one such farmer in north central Kansas, Doug Palen, a fourth-generation farmer who the Times reports has choked through the harshest drought to hit the Great Plains in a century, punctuated by freakish snowstorms and suffocating gales of dust.

madabandon / Flickr Creative Commons

President Trump’s trade agenda may be on a collision course with the interests of his rural voters.

A recent Vox article suggested that starting trade wars with our allies would be “a disaster for American farmers.”

The irony lies in the fact that Trump was swept into power on the votes of rural Americans—farmers and ranchers who had grown frustrated with the amount of regulation enacted by Obama’s White House.

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