High Plains Public Radio

HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Agriculture:
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crop irrigation
livestock production
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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

www.philadelphiafed.org

Most US states enjoyed a strong economic finish to 2015, reports The Rural Blog. Among High Plains states, Kansas and Colorado experienced particularly robust growth of over one percent. In fact, these states had some of the fastest growth in the nation. Nebraska’s economy fell just short of the strong expansion in Kansas and Colorado, and Texas also experienced growth. Oklahoma’s economy remained unchanged.

Washington Post

Last month Walmart announced that it would close 154 stores. The majority of those stores are in poor rural areas, mostly in the Southeast, reports The Rural Blog. Now, some are wondering what these communities are supposed to do. When Walmart came in, many of these towns lost their mom-and-pop stores. These impoverished areas began to rely almost exclusively on their Walmarts for daily needs.

Rural Blog

Of regional interest, in a reversal of a long-running trend, Chinese citizens are leaving the cities and returning to rural areas, reports The Rural Blog.

The flight to the countryside is due to many factors, including a faltering Chinese economy, high cost of living in the cities, and high rates of air pollution. In addition, China’s economy isn’t growing as fast as it once did, and urban manufacturing jobs are becoming more scarce.

The Fight Against Broadleaf Weeds in Winter Wheat

Feb 9, 2016
agriculturewire.com

From Kansas Agland:

Most of the wheat and weeds are inactive during cold weather; however, that can quickly change in the Midwest. While broadleaf weeds are dormant, wheat producers can get a jump-start on managing them in winter wheat.

Mose Buchele / KUT news

Since the birth of Texas cattle rustlers have been a scourge in the state. But now, reports KUT, the slumping oil market has given rise to a new kind of criminal in South Texas: oil rustlers. Thieves have been sneaking into well sites and stealing the crude oil, and it’s becoming a big problem.

amarillolivestockauction.com

There’s a new online auction that could shake up the U.S. pricing model for cattle, reports globalpost.com. The auction made its public debut last week after a test run, with the support of the world's largest meatpacker. Exchange-operator CME Group Inc said the online auction was an effort to improve cattle futures after complaints about extreme volatility.

dailyonder.com

Swaths of western Kansas saw a rise in unemployment over the past year, reports Kansas Agland. The increased jobless rate was concentrated in northwest Kansas and parts of southeast Kansas, according to data from the Department of Labor. Meanwhile, unemployment rates fell in northeast Kansas and the southcentral part of the state. During the past year the overall unemployment rate fell from 4.2 percent to 3.9.

Prowers Journal

Colorado’s unemployment rate decreased one-tenth of a percentage point in December to 3.5 percent, reports The Prowers Journal. During the same period, the national unemployment rate remained unchanged from at 5.0 percent. Two southeast Colorado counties—Baca and Kiowa—had the lowest posted unemployment percentages in the state. Otero County had an exceptionally high rate, at 6.7 percent.

Tommaso Galli / Flickr Creative Commons

As the price of oil continues to drop, Politico asked a number of experts what the hidden consequences of the crash would be. Their answers varied.

John McLaughlin of Johns Hopkins University said every indication is that prices will not go up markedly. They may even drop further.

Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group says Middle East political structures are brittle and based on oil wealth. He asked, what keeps these countries together when the oil money runs out?

Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Worried about the price of wheat on the global market, Midwest farmers are planting less wheat.

Nationwide, farmers seeded about 5 million fewer acres in wheat this planting season than they did two years ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Winter Wheat Seedings Report (PDF) issued Tuesday.

Yahoo News

Oil has become incredibly plentiful and cheap recently. So cheap, in fact, that at least one company has suggested that buyers should be paid to take a certain type of low-quality crude. The company is owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Laura Buckman / New York Times

Texas is a place where wealth is often measured in acres instead of dollars. And for the past several decades, land prices have followed the price of oil. But oil prices have now collapsed from more than $100 a barrel 18 months ago, to a mere $29 a barrel. And The New York Times reports that some investors are seeing the oil bust as a real estate opportunity.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The massive Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal could require some countries to accept more genetically engineered crops.

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement in history, and while not yet approved by Congress, includes the U.S. and 11 other countries along the Pacific Ocean. 

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Driving an oilfield truck in Oklahoma can be deadly, reports member station KGOU. In the past eight years, 36 people in the state have died in crashes involving trucks hauling oilfield wastewater and equipment. According to recent data, seven percent of all truck companies licensed for oil-field work in Oklahoma have been involved in fatal accidents.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The time is ripe for the sharing economy in farm country.

Much like other Web-based companies like Airbnb or Uber, a site dedicated to leasing and using farm equipment is making available expensive machinery during the times producers need it most. And the idea is taking root as crop and livestock prices trend lower and costs climb higher.

CPR / Hart Van Denburg

Colorado’s construction industry continues to thrive, reports Colorado Public Radio. Four out of five construction firms in the state expect to hire more workers this year, according to a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America. Colorado construction is at higher levels than the national average. 81% of all firms surveyed plan to add workers.

StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma oil and gas authorities are finalizing legal action against an oil company in the state. The “financially strapped” Oklahoma energy company has refused to abandon disposal wells suspected of contributing to earthquakes, reports StateImpact. The company, Sandridge Energy, has been ignoring directives from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to shut down six of its disposal wells.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Wheat is one of the world’s staple foods and a big crop on the Great Plains, but it has been left in the dust. A corn farmer can grow 44 percent more bushels per acre than 30 years ago, but only 16 percent more wheat. That’s led many farmers to make a switch.

Colorado Public Radio

Consumers are expected to have a great month at the pump, according to Colorado Public Radio. That’s because gas prices are expected to keep falling in January. A report released Wednesday showed a sharp increase in gasoline inventories. Early this year companies added another eleven million barrels of gasoline. That created the biggest surge in supply since 1993.

Anthony Inswasty / Wikimedia Commons

Gas prices are expected to remain low this year, according to Colorado Public Radio. The average price at the pump is expected to range from $2.25 to $2.45 a gallon.

In 2015, crude oil prices fell by more than a third. The going rate for a barrel of crude currently sits at around $38. The continuing low gas prices are a result of the persistent low cost of oil.

Crude prices, too, are expected to remain low for much of the year.

ApartmentList.com

According to the new rental report on ApartmentList.com, Texas rental growth is still on par with the nation overall. In Texas, apartment rental rates are now up over the last year by around 3 percent. The average price of a one bedroom in Texas is $1000. For a two bedroom, it’s $1070.

Addison is Texas’s most expensive city, with a median two bedroom price of $1740. Dallas is second.

Joe Amon / The Denver Post

A couple of weeks ago more than 200 Muslim workers walked off their jobs at a Cargill meat plant in eastern Colorado. Now the vast majority of those workers have been fired, reports The Denver Post.

Joe Raedle / Newsmakers

Last Thursday marked a historic day for the Texas oil and gas industry, reports Bloomberg. The first U.S. shipment of crude oil to an overseas buyer departed Corpus Christi last week.

Despite Oil Sector Woes, Texas Economy Remains Afloat

Jan 4, 2016
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP / Getty Images

despite a struggling oil sector, most Texas cities are still flying high according to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog.

Kansas City Star

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which stops at six cities in Kansas, posted a record year with more than 367,000 passengers on its route from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Kansas City Star reports that the Jayhawk state accounted for almost 50,000 of those passengers, a slight increase over last year. Nationwide, Amtrak carried almost 31 million passengers in 2015.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The High Plains and Southwest regions are no longer on top when it comes to the nation’s fastest-growing economies. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog, the downturn in the oil industry has pushed economic momentum toward the coasts.

J. Stephen Conn / Creative Commons

Texas is bracing for another oil bust, reports CNBC. The continued global oil-supply glut will likely weigh on Texas and the rest of the U.S. next year. But the latest crude-oil crash may not inflict as much damage as past downturns. Many parts of the state have now diversified away from crude-based economies.

Financial Predictions for the Coming Year

Dec 30, 2015
Flickr/Ars Electronica / Flickr Creative Commons

The economic website wallethub.com has published a list of economic predictions for 2016.

Colorado Farmers form Hemp Co-op

Dec 22, 2015
Creative Commons

Farmers in Northeast Colorado have formed a new kind of co-op, reports Colorado Public Radio. Several farmer have banded together to grow hemp in the region.

The growing of hemp became legal in the state in 2012, along with the growing of cannabis. Hemp, unlike cannabis, has no mind-altering properties. The plant can be used for clothing, soaps, food and other industrial uses. The Colorado farmers are hoping to build a hemp industry in the state.

National Christmas Tree Association

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins, Colo., neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

That’s about when she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. An act that terrifies U.S. Christmas tree growers.

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