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

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.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media

The number of farms and ranches in the U.S. is on the decline and the farms that remain are getting bigger, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. has lost nearly 120,000 farms since 2008, and 18,000 last year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average farm size in the U.S. increased 5 percent over those 7 years, to an average size of 441 acres in 2015.

Thinkstock

There’s a new moneymaker on the High Plains, reports CBS news. It’s not a crop you plow or an animal you butcher. The new cash crop is technology. In fact, there’s been quite an explosion of startup software companies in the heartland recently. Some are calling it the "Silicon Prairie," and it's remaking cities from Des Moines to Kansas City to Lincoln.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas has fallen to $1.71. In Oklahoma, the prices could soon dip below a dollar. The state hasn’t seen average gasoline prices this low in 15 years.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

America's dairy farms are doing more with less. There are fewer dairy cows today than just a few decades ago, but today’s cows are churning out more milk than ever.

Part of the increase is due to genetics. Dairy cows have been bred to be larger, hungrier, and more productive. But that focus on genetics to produce more milk has some prominent livestock advocates ringing alarm bells.

The Top 1 Percent

James Watkins / Flickr Creative Commons

Support for crop insurance programs is nearly unanimous among farmers, reports The High Plains and Midwest Ag Journal. These same farmers also oppose any legislative attempts to undermine the risk management tool.

David McNew / Reuters

Of regional interest, in a world where marijuana is legal in many places, the way the drug is viewed by the public is changing. And along with these perceptions, the ways in which marijuana is sold, delivered and consumed are also changing.

Prowers Journal

New information is available concerning Colorado’s snowpack and reservoir levels. The Prowers Journal reports that the state’s water supply is in good shape. The information comes from a report released last week by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. According to the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report, collective snowpack and reservoir levels for the state remain above average. Almost all of Colorado’s eight river basins also sit at above normal levels.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny town of Corn, Oklahoma, in Washita County has big problems. The lagoon that’s supposed to hold the town’s wastewater has holes in it, reports member station KOSU. Repairing the lagoon will take hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Corn doesn’t have the money. The tiny community will need to take out a loan to fix the water problem.

Nan Palmero / Flickr Creative Commons

Texas is home to the cities of the future, according to Texas Standard. A recent Forbes article attested that Texas has four of America’s next boom towns: Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Part of the reason for the growth is affordable real estate.

ElliotPhotos / Flickr Creative Commons

A movement has been growing across the nation over the past decades—an interest in building an agricultural system that benefits family farms and rural communities. A system that isn’t controlled by large, corporate interests. Nine states have passed laws restricting corporate farming, says the Center for Rural Affairs. Oklahoma has the oldest corporate farming law in the nation, dating back to the state’s inception in 1907.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Some Texas electricity plans are deceptively more pricey than they should be, reports The Texas Tribune. And now Texas regulators say they’re ready to crack down on power companies who try to fleece their customers.

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