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

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.

Rebajae / Wikimedia Commons

The Dallas Morning News has written an appeal to President Trump, urging him not to cut off Texas’s economic contact with its neighbor to the south.

The editorial noted that Mexico is one of the key reasons the Lone Star State’s economy has been strong in recent years. And, the editors stated, threatening a trade war over the building of a border wall will hurt Texas more than any other state.

50states.com

Rural Colorado is most at risk in Trump trade war with Mexico.

As The Denver Post reports, if the Trump Administration imposes a 20 percent levy on Mexican imports to help pay for a border wall, a move that could cause Mexico to retaliate, it would put Colorado’s ranchers, manufacturers and natural gas producers at risk.

Creative Commons CC0

BNSF Railway Company plans to spend significant money on track renovations for the line used by Amtrak for Southwest Chief passenger service.

As The Kansan reports, most of the $125 million that BNSF plans to use the money on the La Junta subdivision, meaning renovations to tracks from Emporia west to Topeka, Newton and Garden City.

The company announced its 2017 capital expenditure plan in a Jan. 19 news release.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A war is brewing over what you pour on your breakfast cereal.

Dairy farmers say the makers of plant-based milks – like almond milk, soy milk and a long list of other varieties – are stealing away their customers and deceiving consumers. And they’d like the federal government to back them up.

At its heart, the fight boils down to the definition and use of one simple word: milk.

Colorado farm and ranch income has hit its lowest level in 30 years, according University of Colorado Boulder research.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, much of agriculture is suffering in Colorado, which like other parts of the High Plains region is facing low corn, wheat and cattle prices.

Creative Commons

After finally rising to over $50 dollars a barrel, oil prices have begun to slump again as U.S. producers continue to expand output.

As Bloomberg reports, U.S. drilling rose last week to its highest level in over a year. The expanded production comes after OPEC followed through on its promise to ramp down production. In the wake of the OPEC announcement, Russia also cut its drilling operations.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

Lane County farmer Vance Ehmke calls himself one of those guys who sees a dark cloud in front of every silver lining.

Ehmke, who sells certified seed, harvested the best wheat crop of his lifetime in June. But as a glut of grain piled high at many Kansas elevators, commodity prices collapsed, sending producers into a farm crisis not seen since the 1980s.

NY - http://nyphotographic.com/

Several Kansas counties could be impacted if President Donald Trump pulls federal funding away from what the Center for Immigration Studies refers to as sanctuary counties.

According to KWCH , six counties in Kansas are considered sanctuary counties by the Center for Immigration Studies - Finney, Butler, Harvey, Johnson, Sedgwick and Shawnee counties.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In a hog barn in rural Iowa, veterinarian Paul Thomas’s approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig’s back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

“He’s just sleepy,” Thomas says, and by the time he’s spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

In the next room, Thomas hears something different.

The Oklahoman

The number of new oil rigs has soared recently in Oklahoma, as well as nationwide, The Tulsa World reports.

The rise of the rigs can be attributed to recent optimism in the oil and natural gas sectors.

According to the oilfield service company Baker Hughes, the number of rigs in the U.S. jumped by 35 this week. That’s the largest weekly gain in almost five years. Oklahoma added seven new rigs.

In an effort to improve emergency response for structure fires in and around Hays, the Hays Fire Department and Ellis County Rural Fire Department recently joined forces for a new automatic aid agreement.

Kansas State Research and Extension

The annual Cover Your Acres Winter Conference is taking place tomorrow and Wednesday in Oberlin.

As Kansas Agland reports, agricultural producers, consultants and experts will gather for the 14th annual conference, which is being held at the Gateway Civic Center.

HITCHHACKING / Flickr Creative Commons

When OPEC curbed production last year, oil producers on the High Plains saw a potential end to the slump that has crippled small-town communities in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles.

Down times in farm country persist, but not yet a ‘crisis’

Jan 17, 2017
Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

NET_EFEKT / Flickr Creative Commons

The High Plains has long been wheat country. And we’re not alone. Wheat is grown on more land than any other crop in the world.

But, as Bloomberg reports, wheat markets have been glutted for a long while now, and many farmers are turning to other crops as a result. Many parts of the world have seen four straight seasons of record harvests.

Wikimedia Commons

Farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the nation.

As High Plains Journal reports, the pitfalls and hazards of farming are so many and varied that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls it one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S.

Smriti Daniel / SciDev.net

Agriculture is still in the early days of applying robotics to farming. But analysts are confident that in coming years, robots will revolutionize agriculture.

Bloomberg News

Last year saw the worst oil downturn in a generation. Exploration outfits slashed spending, and oil discoveries were the lowest they’d been since the 1950s.

But, as Bloomberg reports, the good news is there’s probably nowhere to go but up.

In 2016, oil companies discovered about 14 percent less oil than they had in the previous year—and 2015 was itself a slow year for exploration. Last year’s discovery total was America’s lowest since 1952.

Mark Sterkel / Odessa American

The Texas economy is expected to pick up in 2017, say analysts, though the growth may be modest.

As the Austin American-Statesman reports, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas expects the labor and economy markets in the Lone Star State to grow a bit sunnier this year.

Wikimedia Commons

A new wind farm is on Lamar, Colorado’s very near horizon. 

As The Prowers Journal , Iberdrola Renewables, LLC will begin construction on the Twin Buttes II project, which will consist of 36 wind turbines that will be located on the east side of Highway 287, east of the Colorado Green turbine complex, this spring.

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