HPPR Economy and Enterprise

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Economic indicators & conditions:
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Iowa based group helps save heirloom seeds for future generations.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Local food is no longer just a novelty. Farmers markets are growing nationwide and farms that sell directly to consumers brought in $1.3 billion in 2012, up eight percent from just five years earlier. Despite the demand, making local food work in some places is decidedly more difficult than others. Steamboat Springs, Colo., is one of those places.

Problem number one is infrastructure.

United Soybean Board/Flickr

Farmers’ can anticipate a sharp drop in income this year, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In fact, the USDA predicts the $113 billion earned in 2014 will be the lowest amount of net farm income in five years. That’s equal to about a 14 percent fall from last year’s record amount, thanks mostly to a massive drop in crop prices.

When a grain elevator goes belly up, who’s left holding the bag? Farmers are closely watching what’s happening in Pierce, Nebraska. The Public Service Commission revoked the Pierce Grain Elevator’s license when it couldn’t meet expenses, and closed the elevator. Farmers have filed claims for 9.7 million dollars in claims. Sale of the gain seized after closure will only raise about half that amount.

Walmart is trying the concept of being the neighborhood market in two Amarillo locations.

Huffington Post UK

Overuse of antipsychotic drugs in some Kansas nursing homes endangering patients
Powerful antipsychotic drugs are used too much and inappropriately to manage the behavior of elders with dementia in under-staffed care facilities, according to reporting by the Kansas Health Institute. Kansas ranks 47th worse for use of these drugs. The drugs carry serious side-effects, and reports say as many as 1 in 12 elders taking antipsychotics die from use of the drugs for dementia.

ali eminov/Flickr

Corn and soybean farmers expect a record harvest this year. And that’s after bringing in a record corn crop last year along with one of the largest soybean crops in history.

For once, farmers can thank the weather. It’s been an ideal growing season in much of the Corn Belt with just enough sun and rain to push yields to the limit.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

Late summer in the Midwest is tomato season. For tomato growers around that country, it’s time to pick their bounty and calculate their earnings.

While sun and rain might be free, tomato farmers have to carefully weigh everything else they put in to growing their crop. Research and the development of new tools – from novel seed varieties resistant to diseases to additional fertilizers – has changed the input costs for growers.


Almost everything changes in 100 years, but some have lasting qualities able to stand the test of time.  Kanred was developed a century ago by Kansas State University, and now a direct descendent; KanMark has just been released according to the High Plains Journal

Shelves have been pretty bare at Bella's Markets in both Limon and Stratton, but they should be full now.

BPI plans to re-open its Garden City plant next week on a part time basis because of increased demand. The facility was closed in 2012 because of the "pink slime" controversy. It will re-hire 40-45 employees.


The stereotype of social safety net programs has often been that they mostly serve urban minority populations. However, a new report looks at people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits  (formerly known as food stamps) by where they live, and the results show are surprising according to the Center for Rural Affairs.

What is seen to some as hocus-pocus, helps farmers and ranchers find water in Logan.


The ag world is gearing up to feed 9 billion people, but the Ogallala Aquifer sprawling under the surface of eight Midwestern states is going down the drain.  In fact, in some places, it’s gone reported Amy Bickel for Kansas Agland.

The Kansas economy relies on water and for more than a generation, experts have warned that western Kansas' economic resource is vanishing. The Hutchinson News and the Salina Journal are delving into the issues surrounding the declining Ogallala Aquifer and how it affects Kansas. Water: Past, present, and future begins today with a look at a water-centered economy.


Many Colorado cattle ranchers are beginning to recover from the drought, but for many the rain is too little and too late.

After the blessing of a majority of stock holders, Hastings Entertainment now belongs to Joel Weinshanker.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Colorado already draws thousands of visitors each year for skiing, hiking, beer drinking and, most recently, marijuana sampling. In 2012, those visitors spent more than $16 billion in the state. Tourism officials want more and they’re looking to do it by bringing well-educated “traveling foodies” to the state.

100 years on, Panama Canal still vital to farm economy

Jul 7, 2014
Jean-Pierre Martineau/Flickr

When it opened in 1914, the Panama Canal introduced the harvest from Midwest farms to the world and helped link U.S. farmers to the global economy. Nearly a century-old, the canal today remains an important connector of global trade, from the U.S. heartland to Asia.

“Obviously it’s one of our major achievements,” said Bill Angrick, a former state Ombudsman of Iowa who was born in the Canal Zone and has studied the engineering marvel. “It’s like going to the moon. It’s something we did well and did right.”

AMA seeks ban on antibiotics for weight gain

Jul 7, 2014
Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The largest association of U.S. physicians is calling for tighter rules on antibiotic use in livestock. 

The American Medical Association (AMA) says there should be an outright federal ban on using antibiotics to plump up farm animals. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration asked pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily phase out the use of antimicrobial drugs that promote growth in livestock.

"Beef checkoff" is a national program that funds beef promotion and research. Texas ranchers recently voted in favor of increasing participation in the program by an overwhelming majority.


The Lone Star State is king of the oil and gas drilling boom.  Over a quarter of all the active drilling rigs in the world are in Texas.  That prosperity is not without cost, nor does it benefit every Texan.


Another piece of the Downtown Amarillo development project has fallen into place.  Documents finalizing the property exchange between  Coca-Cola and Amarillo Economic Development Corp. are signed, sealed and delivered according to a recent article in the Amarillo Globe-News.

Felisa Cardona / denverpost.com

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has tapped reserves that were once thought unreachable.  The industry is scrambling to provide infrastructure to support the boom.  Pipelines sometimes have to cross private land.  For the pipeline companies, it’s not a simple off that has to be accepted.  Recent court cases have been awarding landowners significantly higher amounts than companies offer reported Gilad Edelman for The Texas Tribune

Hays Area Chamber of Commerce

Potter County OKs tax break for Coca-Cola, paves the way for ballpark
Potter County is the final jurisdiction to pass a tax abatement for Coke to move from downtown Amarillo to the CenterPort Business Park to make way for a future hotel/ballpark development. Read more from The Amarillo Globe-News.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Farms aren’t just for food any more. With the local food movement growing, more savvy farmers are putting a price tag on more than those organic tomatoes. They are instead marketing and selling the “farm experience” in the form of agritourism attractions.

Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

The U.S. cattle herd has changed dramatically over the last four years, largely thanks to drought.

The supply of beef has been in free-fall. Perhaps you’ve noticed sky-high prices for hamburger and steak.

Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Drought is re-shaping the beef map and raising the price of steak. Ranchers are moving herds from California to Colorado and from Texas to Nebraska seeking refuge from dry weather. And cattle producers in the Midwest are making the most of it.


Across the High Plains, areas are colored with food deserts.  In a place that’s been dealing with drought for four years, the added designation of being a food desert feels more literal.  A food desert is an area designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a non-metropolitan, low-income area where at least 500 people or 33 percent of the population lives more than ten miles from a supermarket or large grocery store.


One unintended consequence of the recent farm bill was the creation of a more rigid and stricter test to define what “actively engaged” in farming means reported John Crabtree for the Center for Rural Affairs.