High Plains Public Radio

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

Pueblo Chieftain

The US Department of Agriculture announced a new program last week that will connect food hubs with area businesses and institutions in an attempt to connect producers and markets. That’s great news for producers in Pueblo, Colorado, reports The Pueblo Chieftain. Local ag producers have created a “value chain” to help locals eat food grown near where they live.

texasaccidentlawyer.com

The number of rigs actively drilling for oil in the US dipped by another 10 this week, reports fuelfix.com—and the biggest losses came from the Lone Star State. That includes four rigs lost in the Granite Wash shale play of the Texas Panhandle. This leaves only four active rigs in the entire shale region.

agriculture.com

When the USDA released its March Prospective Plantings report, some ag experts and grain markets were baffled by the large shift toward corn acres. The report listed a prospective 94 million acres of the crop nationwide. That’s a six percent increase over last year, and would add another 941 million bushels to an already well supplied market, according to agriculture.com.

So, what’s happening here?

Jim Gehrz / Minneapolis Star Tribune

Over the past few years, you might have noticed new dollars stores popping up in your town or your neighborhood. In fact, dollar stores have swept across rural America at a staggering rate, notes a report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

About 6,000 dollar stores have opened since 2010. That brings the total number of dollars stores nationwide up to 30,000. In the last six years, consumer spending in dollar stores has skyrocketed from $30 billion to $45 billion.

Denver Post

Wind farms continue to pump out millions of dollars’ worth of renewable energy in Colorado. But, as the Denver Post reports, turbines are also big business for landowners these days. Colorado landowners received $9 million in lease payments from wind companies last year. And all this wind energy couldn’t have come at a better time for rural High Plains residents. Oil and gas profits have dwindled, and slumping commodity prices have cut into farm and ranch incomes.

Boom

Many of us grew up with stories of the Concorde, the supersonic passenger jet that could cross the Atlantic in the time it takes to watch The Godfather. The Concorde was a commercial failure, and was decommissioned 13 years ago. But now billionaire mogul Sir Richard Branson says his company, Virgin, will partner with Boom to succeed where the Concorde failed. And this time, says Branson, tickets will be affordable.

Wikimedia Commons

Crop insurance has come under fire in some quarters over the past few months. While this subsidized federal program remains very popular among many farmers, others have complained that the program helps mega-farmers outbid beginning, and small farmers on land. Others insist that the program forces land values to rise in an unfair way.

Drenaline / Wikimedia Commons

The US Department of Energy approved a project last week that would ship renewable energy directly from Oklahoma’s panhandle to cities in the southeastern United States. The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that the 700-mile Plains and Eastern Clean Line project was okayed by the feds last Friday. The electricity transmission line will cross 14 Oklahoma counties before passing through Arkansas and ending north of Memphis, Tennessee.

BigTexan.com

Falling oil prices have caused many economic woes for West Texas. But the news isn’t all bleak, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Forecast, this year Texas restaurateurs should expect to see a 3.8-percent increase in sales. That will bring total revenue up over $52 billion for the year.

Ryan Kang / AP photo

HPPR listeners in eastern Colorado have probably noticed the explosion in popularity of pot-infused edibles. Marijuana-laced gummy bears, brownies, lollipops and pastries are all the rage in the Centennial State. But npr.org recently asked a burning question: Just how potent are these ganja-laced goodies? The answer? No one really knows.

Lindsey Bartlett / Westword

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has unveiled a new program that's a first for the country, reports Westword.com. Under Colorado’s seed certification program, the state will tag hemp seeds with a “CDA Approved Certified Seed” label. The new certification aims to give the industrial hemp industry and its farmers more credibility.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Cannabis is beginning to look a lot like a commodity crop.

After spending decades in darkened basements and secreted away on small parcels of land, marijuana growers are commercializing once-illegal plant varieties: industrial hemp, recreational marijuana and medical cannabis.

coloeast.com

A Texas financial institution is moving to purchase a bank with several branches in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Triumph Bancorp, Inc. of Dallas is set to acquire Colorado East Bank & Trust, reports The Greeley Tribune.

The Wichita Eagle

Tthere’s a new type of animal being raised on the Kansas plains, and it’s a bit smaller than cattle or even chickens. You might actually say it’s shrimpier. After the death of his father in 2012, Kansas farmer Bob Daniels decided it was time for a career change, reports Kansas.com. So, as any sensible agriculturist would do, he decided to start a shrimp farm. If all goes according to plan, the Sunflower Shrimp farm just south of Oxford could be open for business as soon as July.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Oil prices appear to have hit their low point. No, really, this is it, says Quartz.com. The new head of the International Energy Agency told a seminar in Oslo recently that “Oil prices appear to have bottomed out.” Neil Atkinson added that “Prices are expected to grow throughout 2016 and into 2017, reflecting expectations that the market is going back into balance in 2017.” And Atkinson may be right.  US benchmark crude West Texas Intermediate is currently up 31% from its February low.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

The Western Farm Show in Kansas City, Mo.., is a long way from Silicon Valley.

But here in a huge arena, set in what used to be the Kansas City Stockyards, the high-tech future of agriculture is for sale.

Casey Adams and Scott Jackman, co-owners of Fly Ag Tech, have their large yellow and white drone sitting at center stage in their booth at this huge annual trade show.

Rural Blog

Many High Plains residents are celebrating agriculture today. March 15 is National Ag Day, a holiday that falls right in the middle of National Ag Week, from March 13-19. This is the perfect chance to recognize the importance of local agricultural in your community, says The Rural Blog.

colostate.edu

Something big is happening in eastern Colorado, says Colorado State University. The first Rural Colorado Apparel Manufacturing—or RCAM—center has been established in the town of Wray. RCAM is one of several grassroots apparel and lifestyle business manufacturing efforts underway around Colorado. The program hopes to revive a US cut-and-sew workforce decimated by decades of jobs moving overseas.

coloeast.com

A Texas financial institution is moving to purchase a bank with several branches in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. Triumph Bancorp, Inc. of Dallas is set to acquire Colorado East Bank & Trust, reports The Greeley Tribune.

Wallethub

The average American household spends over $2,000 on real-estate property taxes each year. So, it should come as no surprise that almost $12 billion in property taxes go unpaid each year. The economic website Wallethub recently ranked states according to how high their real estate taxes are.

hess.com

Many of Oklahoma’s energy companies released earnings reports last week. And the state’s economic predicament continues to grow more and more bleak, reports member station KGOU. 

WeFood / Facebook

A new supermarket in Denmark has come up with a novel way to fight food waste, reports Quartz.com. In the United States, people toss out 50% more uneaten and expired food than they did in 1990. That’s a lot of wasted food. And it’s a problem worldwide, though the US is one of the worst offenders. Countries around the world throw out 1.3 billion metric tons of food each year.

theoptimist.com

The agriculture industry is entering a new period. This most recent stage is called margin compression, reports CattleNetwork.com. It occurs when revenues are depressed and costs remain elevated.

youthjournalism.org

You don’t have to travel far to learn something new. During Spring Break, my husband and I jaunted to Courtland, Kansas, to explore Jamestown Marsh and other area sites. I expected to see migratory birds, including eagles, ducks, and geese. I hoped to visit the Pawnee Indian Village Museum to study more about early residents of my region. My to-do list also included antiquing and photography. One thing I never expected to discover was a maple tapping/syrup making operation. In fact, I thought of this as a New England only activity, never considering that Kansans produce local maple products.

Luis Romero / Flickr Creative Commons

Of regional interest, there are currently more Mexicans leaving the U.S. than coming in, reports Texas Standard. Even so, last year immigrants in the US sent $56 billion to their families back home, an astoundingly high amount.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The federal government has wiped off the books the controversial law that required grocery stores to label cuts of pork and beef with their country of origin.

Jennifer Boomer / The Wall Street Journal

Falling energy prices are deepening the pain felt in West Texas, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In an examination of the economic effects in the Permian Basin, the Journal noted that there is downward pressure on wages as job applicants swell. Meanwhile, prices on everything from hotel rooms to tacos are falling, and late payments on small business loans are increasing.

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.

Pages