HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

   

Heritage grains are trendy. Walk through a health food store and see packages of grains grown long before modern seed technology created hybrid varieties, grains eaten widely outside of the developed world: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa.

But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet.

ed_needs_a_bicycle / flickr commons

With the Ogallala aquifer declining, there’s the inevitable question of how best to use the water remaining.  A recent study from Texas A&M suggests one answer: expand the cattle production and processing industries and rely on bringing in more “imported” grain and the “virtual” water it brings to the region.

Russell Lee/ Farm Security Administration /LOC

Congress is bitterly divided on food stamps and other issues contained in the farm bill, but both political parties agree on something: the $5 billion-a-year farm subsidy called Direct and Countercyclical Payments has got to go.

High Country News

Amarillo’s Federal Helium Reserve got a reprieve Thursday as the Senate unanimously approved a bill extending the reserve, a day after the House approved the measure, also unanimously. Without the legislation, the facility would have been forced to shut down on October 7th under older legislation.  The reserve provides 42% of the country’s helium and 35% of the world’s.

John Deere / http://www.deere.com/

Buying a new farm tractor costs almost as much as a new home in a decent suburb.  

Shelling out $200,000 or more for shiny new John Deere, Case IH, New Holland or other name brand horsepower to work the fields of a 21st century Midwestern farm isn’t unusual, farmers and dealers say.

What seems more unusual, to newcomers to farm economics at least, is that those shiny new models aren’t the hottest selling big iron on many dealers’ lots.  That would be the used tractors that were traded in when the new models rolled off the dealers’ flatbed trucks.

nabholz.com

Nine months into the Kansas Medicaid makeover, health care providers are struggling with KanCare reported the Kansas Health Initiative

End of Tax Break Could Affect Tractor Sales

Sep 23, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

On a hot August day in late August, Kevin Bien stands in the shade of a large gray piece of farm equipment.  The brand marketing manager for Gleaner Combines gives his best spiel to a group of farmers attending the Farm progress Show  in Decatur, Ill.   Torque, efficiency, and new technology are among his key points for the prospective buyers of the large machines that can run anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.    

And farmers are buying. Frequently.

hutchnews.com

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv, is a heat-sensitive virus than can kill up to 100% of piglets that contract it, and hog producers in the Oklahoma Panhandle and Southwestern Kansas are battling the disease that experts now believe is carried on the wind reported the Global Post.  That’s devastating news for high plains farmers where the wind is a strong, consistent force of nature. 

Google Earth

Long before unmanned drones buzzed though rural America’s skies, pilots have been recording birds-eye views of the changing history of the nation’s farms and ranches.

Some worked for the government.   But others were entrepreneurs, just trying to make a buck or two.  Now, they are using the Internet too.

texastribune.org

Once again, estimates recently released by U.S. Census Bureau say Texas has the most uninsured in the nation according to a recent article from The Texas Tribune.    

Google: Powered by The Happy Hereford

Sep 18, 2013
Flickr/Creative Commons License

Google has added a huge amount of renewable energy to its portfolio:  The Happy Hereford wind farm outside Amarillo.  Google has agreed to purchase the entire output, 270-megawatts, of the wind farm according to KCET

Olivia Gordon/StateImpact Texas

It's the newest high-end electric car on the market, and it's not sold in Texas. It's not being sold in many other states, either.

Battery Theft Afflicts Oil and Gas Drillers

Sep 15, 2013
texastribune.org

Batteries in the oil field cost a few hundred more than a car battery, and they’re used to power equipment that monitors pipelines.   Battery supply companies buy the batteries- dead or alive, and that seems to be an open door for theft reported The Texas Tribune.  

Who Bought the Chunk of Texas

Sep 13, 2013
amarillo.com

The 25 square-mile piece of Texas was auctioned off this week, and it’s no longer owned by one person.  According to the Amarillo Globe-News, purchasers bought pieces for the expected use of farming and ranching, but some had diverse purposes in mind. 

Chicago-based musician Susan Werner has worked on concept albums before – from jazz standards to pop classics to Gospel music for agnostics. Her new album is described as “egg meets art,” celebrating the culture of agriculture through music. Harvest Public Media reporter Laura Spencer spoke with Susan Werner. Her new CD, Hayseed, was co-commissioned by the University of Nebraska’s Lied Center for the Performing Arts and the Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR).

unitedtexas.com

United Family Supermarkets will be a subsidiary of Albertson’s.  The family who started United will leave the business, but Robert Taylor, CEO, will be retained as well as well as staff reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

Farmville helps explain farm bill

Sep 9, 2013
courtesy of Zynga

The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.

raconline.org

The United States Department of Health and Human Services issued a report with recommendations that, if acted upon, could put hundreds of small, rural hospitals in jeopardy according to an article by the Kansas Health Institute.

SW Kansas Trio Work to Save Current Route

Sep 9, 2013
amtrak.com

The Southwest Chief runs from Chicago and Los Angeles, with a route through Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico.  Poor track conditions have caused the Southwest Chief to reduce speeds through Kansas reported the Dodge City Globe

Bill Lollar flickr / creative commons

Most Americans don’t eat horse meat, and they don’t like the idea of horses being slaughtered, but a handful of investors are struggling to restart a horse slaughter industry in the United States.

The investors argue that reviving horse slaughter plants would be both good for the horse business and more humane than the current situation. They’re hoping to open a new horse slaughter plant near Gallatin, Mo., but opposition has the project mired in the legal system. The issue cleaves horse owners into two camps: one that views horses as pets and another that see them as livestock.

Quentin Hope

  At $200 per acre, Trego County, KS topped the list of High Plains counties in per acre crop insurance payments in 2012.  Other top counties were Wallace County, KS at $157 per acre and Rawlins County, KS at $127 per acre.  All three are in Northwest Kansas.  At the bottom is the list was Hemphill County, TX in the northeast corner of the Panhandle with just $1 per acre on only 13,400 planted acres.

Up For Auction: A 25 square mile chunk of Texas

Sep 5, 2013
http://assiter.com/

On Thursday, September 12, 10:00am, an unusual auction will take place at McLean Cowboy Church in McLean.  Up for bids is the Chapman Ranch, a 16,000 acre parcel spanning roughly 25 square miles in Gray and Wheeler counties according to a recent article by the Amarillo Globe-News.

What $154 million in payouts means to a county

Sep 4, 2013
Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Farmer Doug Wilson has been buying crop insurance since 1980. 

“You carry home insurance, hoping your house doesn’t burn down. We carry crop insurance, hoping our crops don’t burn down,” Wilson said on a sweltering day in mid-August as he walked among the healthy 8-foot corn stalks in one his fields in central Illinois. “But last year, they burned down — kind of literally.”

summacare.com

As October 1 is just a few weeks away, there seems to be even more confusion about the Affordable Care Act than ever.  According to a recent KUT article, it’s not only consumers who are perplexed by the program, but medical providers are too.

The high plains are wind-rich, but the biggest need for energy is on the populous coasts.  The issue is easily seen.   State Impact Oklahoma shared these maps. 

The higher the wind speed, the higher the energy potential.  Look where the greatest potential is.

Now, notice where the transmission lines are located.

COOL too cumbersome for meat labeling?

Sep 3, 2013
www.foodsafetynews.com

For several years now, there’s been a battle brewing over how much U.S. consumers need to know about where their meat comes from.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is in the midst of implementing a new country-of-origin labeling rule, also known as COOL, that requires companies to label where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. The new rule also prohibits meat from two different animals from being comingled and sold in the same package.

ars.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service of the Southern Plains is on a mission.  For 75 years, they’ve been working, “to sustainably balance today’s livelihoods with tomorrow’s needs.”  An article from the Amarillo Globe-News reported scientists at the facility do more than write research papers, they put them into practice. 

toastwireless.com

The “digital divide” between urban and rural areas used to be all about access to broadband internet service.  Today it is much more about adoption where access is now available. 

www.nebraska.tv

Farmers across the country received a record breaking 17.3 billion dollars in federal crop insurance payouts after last year’s drought.  While the payments were critical for the financial well-being of farmers, the National Resources Defense Council has issued a report critical of the structure of the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP).

Uninsured: How things look on the high plains

Sep 1, 2013
michaudinsurance.com

The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals the percentage of uninsured people under the age of 65. 

Here’s how things look on the high plains:

  • Colorado: 17%
  • Kansas: 14.4%
  • Oklahoma: 21.8%
  • Texas: 25.7%

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