HPPR Economy and Enterprise

Texa$
8:01 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

No Sales Tax in Texa$ on Back-to-School Items: August 9-11

The tax-free weekend could give Texans a $74 million break.
Credit Credit Todd Wiseman & Mikhail Popov, Texas Tribune

For the past 14 years, Texas has celebrated the return to school with a sales tax holiday.  KUT News reports this year the event is August 9-11.  Most clothing and back-to-school supplies under $100.00 are not taxed.

Estimated shopper savings is expected to be more than $74 million across the state.

Details about exempt items are available from the Texas State Comptroller's website.

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Oil & Gas
8:01 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Hydraulic Fracturing Linked to Earthquakes: Oklahoma Lacks Response

A Chesapeake Energy drilling rig in Ohio.
Credit GUS CHAN / THE PLAIN DEALER /LANDOV

Injection wells are linked to earthquakes in a handful of states like: Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Ohio, and Colorado.  Impact Oklahoma reported the largest earthquake connected to a disposal and injection well occurred on November 2011 in Prague, Oklahoma.  However, Oklahoma has not responded with significant regulations.

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Growing on the High Plains Episode
8:01 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Busy Bee Farms: Part Two

Our second visit to Busy Bee Farms in Kismet Kansas takes us for a tour of internal workings of the greenhouses that produce literal layers of tomatoes,  as well as lettuce, cucumbers and other vegetables. Pond plants and koi fish provide some tropical looking landscapes on our walk-through.  We'll also get the buzz on the insect population that helps pollinate and protect the produce and plants.

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Wind Energy
8:00 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Government, Academia, and Industry Join to Create a Better Wind Farm

Texas Tech research wind energy research facility
Credit Texas Tech University

  What do you get when you combine resources from The U.S. Department of Energy, a private company named Vestas, and Texas Tech University?  A project with the goal of creating a better wind farm. 

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Healthcare
8:01 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Affordable Healthcare Act: Study says it's better for states to run their own exchange

Credit Go Health

The Kansas Health Institute reported when it comes to the upcoming health insurance exchange, state-run is better than federal.

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

Video Documentary: Aging of the American Farmer

At age 84 Bob Hawthorn I still working on his family’s fourth generation farm dating back to the 1870s.
Credit Ray Meints for NET News

Farmers are getting older.  They’re working longer, staying on the land later and continuing to do what they’ve done for decades: heading out day after day after day to work their land.

In 1978, the average age of the American farmer was just over 50. In 2007, it was creeping toward 60, at just over 57-years-old. What does that mean for the agriculture industry? Harvest Public Media went to answer that question by focusing on this massive demographic shift that affects not just rural America but the power and potential of an entire industry. 

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Communications
8:01 pm
Sat July 13, 2013

Silent Radio Celebrates 50 Years

Engineer David Andrews (left) and technician Robert Oase (right) are shown by the WWVB transmitter in 1963.
Credit NIST

Wired magazine recently reported, "the most important radio you've never heard," celebrated its 50th birthday.  WWVB, a station that broadcasts from the base of the Rocky Mountains, sends out a signal that keeps Americans on time.  Devices lock onto and sync with the signal.  This invisible piece of infrastructure, you've never tuned in and listened to,  has moved industries from entertainment to telecommunications. 

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Young dreams, huge obstacles

Eva Teague, 31, is trying to start her own pig farm but is having trouble breaking in to the business.
Credit Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

While the farming community continues to age fewer young people are filling the ranks, prompting the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?

The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.

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Healthcare
8:01 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Western Kansas Clinics Receive Federal Grant Money

Credit shrm.org

Two western Kansas clinics received federal monies to help residents maneuver their way through the upcoming health insurance exchange.  The Kansas Health Institute reported the funds will be used to hire a total of 32 outreach workers in 14 clinics across Kansas.  The total grant amount was $1.6 million.

The two clinics are: 

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Growing on the High Plains Episode
8:01 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Busy Bee Farms: Part One

Busy Bee Farmers Dannie and Suzan

Today we'll start a special three part series that began as a stop-over at Busy Bee Farms in Southwest Kansas.  I found out about this great place when I bought a little container of delicious tomatoes that sported the Busy Bee logo and implored me to 'buy local'. 

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Retiring to the farm anything but quiet

Jim Schulte and his wife, Rita, bought their 450-acre farm near Columbia, Mo., in 1991, but didn’t start farming full time until Jim finished working in the mortgage business.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s not just lifelong farmers who feel the pull of the land as they get older. For some Americans, retirement is an opportunity to begin the farming dream.

“I wanted to be able to be active and have a pastime that ensured physical activity,” said beginning farmer Tom Thomas, who at 65 still has the physical fitness to wrestle and brand steers at his son’s ranch in Oklahoma. 

Thomas retired two years ago after teaching exercise physiology for 35 years and he knew what he wanted to do next.

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Havest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Facing the family farm legacy

Father and son Jim and Tom Arganbright stand in a field that Tom planted with soybeans this spring. The older generation still owns the land, but Tom now rents it as part of his own farming operation.
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Driving out of the western Iowa town of Panora, the winding roads offer broad vistas of rolling hills. Many of the mailboxes along Redwood Road show the name Arganbright. Jim Arganbright grew up in this area, one of 10 children. He and his wife, Beverly, have eight kids.

Though Jim Arganbright farmed here his whole life, three years ago at the age of 80 he started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his children who farms full-time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that.

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Harvest Public Media series
8:01 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

How long can you farm?

A young Bob Hawthorn runs the harvester through a field of oats. Hawthorn studied engineering and began a career working in the aerospace industry before returning to the farm.
Bob Hawthorn

Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days. In 2012, 5 percent of the U.S. workforce was beyond retirement age. But farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census 25 percent of all farm operators were over 65 years old.

Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer.

“It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

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Wind Energy
8:01 pm
Sun July 7, 2013

Texas Wins: Energy Dichotomy

Credit leadenergy.org

Texas.  Everything's bigger in Texas.  A recent piece by State Impact Texas, noted it not only applies to fossil fuel production, but also pollution.  The biggest polluter is also the state with the most wind energy, more than any other state, as a matter of fact, more than a lot of countries.  

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Harvest Public Media field note
7:51 pm
Sun July 7, 2013

Farm groups keep up farm bill pressure

Credit geringhoffusa.blogspot.com

  In an effort to revive the defeated farm bill, more than 530 organizations, including heavyweights like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, have signed a letter (PDF) that urges House Speaker John Boehner to bring the legislation back to the floor.

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10:04 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Hereford Beef Plant Fined for Safety Violations

Lead in text: 
OSHA inspection reveals plant failed to protect workers.
Caviness Beef Packing Ltd. in Hereford received 25 safety violations and faces $120,000 in fines after a January inspection by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to an OSHA inspection report.Most of the violations were serious, meaning there is a significant probability death or serious harm could result from the hazard, according to the Department of Labor.
Healthcare
8:01 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Parent Company of Western Kansas Hospital Agrees to Billing Settlement

Credit workingnurse.com

The Kansas Health Institute reported two companies agreed to pay the federal government $9.7 million.   The two are: Hospital Corporation of America, owner of Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, and Lifepoint Hospitals, Inc.,  owner of Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City.  The settlement is in regard to allegations that both billed over billed Medicare for an inpatient procedure that could have been done safely and more cost effectively in an out-patient setting.

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An orphan crop?
8:01 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

Who wants biotech wheat?

Nebraska farmer Larry Flohr, squeezes out a kernel of unripened wheat.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Many farmers say they would like to grow genetically engineered wheat to help them feed a hungry world, but it’s not what everyone’s hungry for. And now, with the mysterious appearance of Roundup Ready wheat in a farmer’s field in Oregon a few weeks ago, consumer resistance may grow even stronger.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

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Western Kansas
8:01 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

2013 Wheat Harvest Isn't Good for Western Kansas

Kansas wheat harvest is nearing completion, and it seems to be a year of feast or famine. Western Kansas falls on the side of famine.  The Wichita Eagle says Highway 13 seems to be the dividing line.

8:51 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Two Texas Panhandle Banks Make Top 100

Lead in text: 
Happy State Bank and Amarillo National Bank made BauerFinancial's Top 100 Banks. BauerFinancial analyzes and reports on the condition of the nation's banks. Financial institutions do not pay for this rating, nor can they avoid it.
Two Texas Panhandle banks manage billions of dollars in clients' wealth, gold and mineral assets, landing them in some high-roller territory in the banking world.Happy State Bank, based in Happy, comes in at No. 55 on BauerFinancial's Top 100 Banks Nationwide for the sheer dollar volume of its fiduciary assets - $2.1 billion.Amarillo National Bank hits the list at No.
HPPR Economy and Enterprise
7:27 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Rural Kansas Counties Buck Traditional Employment Trends

Credit ezilon

Typically, cities fuel job growth, but a recent article in the Wichita Eagle reveals urban employment levels in Kansas are level, while rural areas are experiencing growth.   Much of the rural improvements can be attributed to increased oil drilling, oil services, overall farming wealth increase, and government transfers like Medicare. 

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
8:01 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Texas Panhandle Farmers Participate in Water Conservation Project

A device that transmits information on soil moisture in a cornfield belonging to David Ford (standing) a farmer near the Texas Panhandle town of Dumas. He is participating in a water-saving demonstration project.
Credit Jerod Foster

Motivated by water district regulations and a falling water table, a handful of farmers in the Texas Panhandle are participating in a water conservation project.  Farmers like Harold Grall, are implementing technology and changing farming practices to reduce water use and remain profitable reported The Texas Tribune.  

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
8:01 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Fireworks Safety Tips

The Fourth of July is Thursday.  Many will celebrate Independence Day with friends, family, and fireworks. 

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Last call for wheat trading in Kansas City

Kansas City Board of Trade trading floor circa 1930s
KCBT

For 157 years, the price of most wheat grown on the plains has been set by the Kansas City Board of Trade. That will soon come to an end.

In October 2012, Chicago-based CME Group acquired the Kansas City Board of Trade. Operations move to Chicago as of July 1 – and the last call on the Kansas City trading floor takes place on Friday. Here's a look back at the long history of the Board of Trade – and the end of an era.

Deep roots in KC

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HPPR Economy and Enterprise
8:01 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Works to Provide Local Input to Affordable Care Act

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger
Credit Kansas Health Institute

The Kansas Health Institute reported  federal officials will run the new health exchange for the state of Kansas, but Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said she has been in discussions to have complex calls roll over to her department.  Her goal is to connect Kansas consumers with local experts who are familiar with insurance plans and regulations specific to the state. 

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Economy & Enterprise
4:00 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Amarillo Lodging Icon Joins World's Largest Independent Hotel Group

The Ambassador Hotel in Amarillo, Texas, is now part of the world's largest independent hotel group.  Karen Smith Welch recently reported in the Amarillo Globe that the Ambassador will, "fly the flag of Magnuson Hotels as the Magnuson Grand Hotel Amarillo."  

Dinesh Patel has owned the Ambassador since 2004.  He said he is negotiating to retain the Ambassador name, and he hopes the change will increase the hotel's internet presence.

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Harvest Public Media story
8:01 pm
Sun June 23, 2013

Redefining the co-op in ways big and small

A new grocery co-op opened in Elwood, Neb., this spring. The town went without a store for more than a year.
Credit Hilary Stohs-Krause/NET News

  The cooperative business model, long a staple of Midwestern agricultural communities, is being adapted to serve a broader range of rural needs.

For example, in the south-central Nebraska town of Elwood — population 700 — there’s a new grocery store.

“I get very emotional almost every time I’m in here, because I’m just so happy to have this store,” said Sharlette Schwenninger, who helped found the cooperative store.  The town had been without a grocery store for more than a year.

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Economy & Enterprise
8:01 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

High Plains Ranchers are Grass-Fed Cattle Innovators for Discriminating Palates

Family members moved bulls on the Lasater Ranch in Matheson, Colo. The family markets much of its beef to retailers like Whole Foods and Natural Grocers.
Credit Matthew Staver for The New York Times

Prescott Frost, the great grandson of poet Robert Frost, is a maverick who sees the Sandhills of Nebraska as the Napa Valley of ranchland.  On his 7,000 acre ranch there he’s dedicated himself to raising and marketing his own brand of artisanal beef, as detailed in a New York Times profile by Kathryn Shattuck.

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10:58 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Texas Bills Expands Types and Locations of Homemade Food Sales

Lead in text: 
Food safety programs will have to be completed, but now the gate swings a little wider, allowing Texans to sell more homemade foods in more locations.
Time to crack open your recipe books, food entrepreneurs. A bill signed into law by Governor Perry overhauls regulation of so-called "cottage food
Harvest Public Media field note
4:00 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Tying crop insurance to conservation faces tough road in House

Now that the Senate has a farm bill (technically the Agriculture, Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013)ready and waiting for reconciliation with a House version, it’s a good time to look at how some of what the Senate passed may play out in the House—and what it all means for the general public as well as for farmers.

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