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

From Texas Standard:

For years, there's been talk about the growth of the craft beer business. Breweries have been popping up all over Texas to fill a thirst for locally made suds. But it's worth wondering whether we've reached a saturation point. In December, Big Bend Brewing announced it was suspending its operations and Noble Rey Brewing in Dallas just filed for bankruptcy protection.

Hemp became a boom crop in Colorado after it was legalized in 2014 alongside its cousin marijuana. CBD, a non-intoxicating cannabis extract that — anecdotally — has been labeled as a cure-all is driving the growth.

This past year has been a difficult one for U.S. farmers, and Colorado was no exception. From the rising cost of production, to the imposition of foreign tariffs and falling prices for commodities like wheat and soybeans, 2018 held many challenges for local agriculture.

Joe Bisogno sees a bright future for industrial hemp in Kansas. The plant is a close relative of marijuana, but it lacks the high-producing chemical THC.

The crop can be used to make everything from textiles to health and food products.

“Industrial hemp is not pot, but it is a pot of gold for Kansas,” Bisogno said before the ribbon cutting on a new hemp training facility in De Soto.

Bisogno founded America’s Hemp Academy to train people on growing hemp, but other state officials hope Kansas can cash in on more than just growing the crop.

From Texas Standard:

Taxes. They tend be something many of us avoid thinking about until a certain time of the year. But they are, of course, an everyday reality when you buy something at the store or when you fill up your gas tank.

The U.S. meat industry is gigantic, with roughly $200 billion a year in sales and growing. But the industry faces emerging threats on two fronts: plant-based meat substitutes and actual meat grown in labs.

After a year that saw persistently low prices for many agricultural products — exacerbated by the retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. goods — farmers are eager for a recovery in 2019.

Pork producers have been working within the trade-war parameters since China imposed a hefty tariff in April. Northeast Iowa pig farmer Al Wulfkuhle said the sudden drop in Chinese demand for U.S. pork turned what had started as a promising year into a challenging one.

Compared to the 89 millions acres of soybean in the U.S., the hemp industry is still meager at 25,000 acres, but experts expect that will quickly change now that President Donald Trump has signed the 2018 farm bill.

That’s because after nearly a century of heavy state and federal restrictions, hemp has been removed from the list of controlled substance and reclassified as an agricultural commodity — one that a burgeoning market has its eyes on.

Newsy / Kevin Clancy

From 2008 through 2017, 1,566 workers perished trying to extract oil and gas in America. About as many U.S. troops died fighting in Afghanistan during that period.

From The Texas Tribune:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Parker Waldridge had worked in the Oklahoma oilfields since he was 16 and acquired the traits that make a good driller: fortitude, intellect and a healthy respect for the power of a runaway gas well.

As harvest wrapped up this year and the leaves turned brilliant shades of red and yellow, two of the world’s biggest agribusinesses, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Smithfield Foods, announced they were pairing up on projects with environmental nonprofits.

Back in 2010, there were high hopes in Colorado that locally grown hops, the plant that gives beer a bitter or citrusy flavor, would help feed the then booming craft beer market. In just six years, the industry sprouted from almost nothing to 200 acres, according to the trade association Hop Growers of America.

Spirit AeroSystems announced Wednesday it will add 1,400 new jobs over the course of the next year.

 

In a lab at George Washington University, painted lady butterflies flutter in mesh houses. This is where assistant professor Arnault Martin and his research group use the new gene-editing technique CRISPR to unlock secrets about the colors and spots on the butterflies’ wings.

CRISPR has allowed them to isolate a precise gene that controls wing appearance, and they can shut it off at will.

Congress has passed the 2018 farm bill and — pending the expected presidential signature — it will be legal to grow hemp across the United States for the first time in more than 80 years. Colorado already feels like it's in first place, especially on the Western Slope.

Hemp was legalized in the state alongside recreational marijuana in 2014, and now more acres are grown here than anywhere else in the nation.  

UT Energy Institute

Wind power remains the least expensive way to generate electricity in almost every county in the High Plains listening region.

In fact, according to a map published Tuesday in the Dallas Morning News, wind is king across a wide swath of the middle part of the U.S., ranging from the Big Bend area all the way up to the Dakotas and the Canadian border.

Colorado’s economy is expected to add more than 53,000 jobs in 2019. University of Colorado economists forecast growth across all sectors and that the state will rank tops in other key economic measures.

In other words, the winning streak should continue, despite recent spasms in the stock market.

Fields, crops and farm animals are part of the agriculture-industry landscape, but an increasingly small one.

The number of farm and ranch managers shrunk by about 20 percent between 1996 and 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. At the same time, there are more students graduating from ag colleges, and, in many parts of the country, 80 percent to 90 percent of them find a job (or go for an advanced degree) within a few months of graduating.

NASA's InSight probe is set to land on Mars this afternoon at around 2 p.m. CST. Launched in May, the probe will end its journey to the Red Planet, where it will begin a two-year mission to gather data on Mars' terrain. 

Watch a livestream of the landing below, courtesy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. 

Several Texas news outlets are reporting about how volunteers are helping those experiencing food insecurity this Thanksgiving. But how much attention is focused on those who grow and harvest the food, or those who rely on food stamps? Both issues are part of the massive federal farm bill that's set to expire soon, and with Congress away for Thanksgiving, certain crop subsidies, federal nutrition assistance programs and more are in limbo.

Farmers know every year they’re going to encounter surprises from things out of their control, like drought or pests.

This year, great growing conditions led to a bin-busting soybean harvest, but a tit-for-tat exchange of tariffs with China meant that country went from being a major buyer to virtually ignoring U.S. soybeans.

In early November 25-year-old Jose de Jesus Gallegos Alvarez mopped the wood floor of a pilates studio at The Club at Flying Horse, a private country club in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For him and the rest of the housekeeping staff, a day's work involves a lot mopping, but also window cleaning and towel folding. As winter settles in, the volume of work has diminished; summer is the peak season for the club.

For Gallegos Alvarez, it was the final week of his eight-month H-2B visa.

Wikimedia Commons

The future looks grim for a couple of iconic Texas beer brands.

As The Austin American Statesman reports, the beer company Pabst has entered into a feud with brewing behemoth Miller Coors, which could spell the end of Pabst.

Farmers started forming co-ops nearly a century ago, primarily to get better prices for their crops. They pooled their resources, put up storage bins and gained leverage with buyers.

Brad Churchill, a slaughter operations manager at Cargill Meat Solutions, has worked in the cattle industry for more than 30 years. He’s seen many employees injured by cattle.

“A young man did nothing to provoke this 1,600-pound angus steer who turned on him in an instant,” Churchill said of one incident last year. The man crawled through an escape hatch and only had a dislocated shoulder and few fractured ribs.

The high-desert town of Palisade, Colorado, is synonymous with fresh, locally grown peaches. Years ago, thousands of migrant workers would flock here each year in August to harvest the fuzzy fruit. But today, on its narrow dirt roads, Bruce Talbott drives a truck loaded down with 9 tons of wine grapes.

A handful of companies — think Tyson and Perdue — all but control poultry production in the U.S. They’ll soon be joined by a retailer known more for selling rotisserie chickens: Costco, which is building a farm-to-table system based in Nebraska to supply itself.

As life expectancy increases, farmers are staying in the business, but there’s still a need to plan for what happens when they die. At the same time, young farmers who come from non-farming backgrounds are looking for the space to grow their own careers.

A land transfer may seem simple, but challenges abound: How do retiring farmers connect with beginning farmers? When does a farmer confront death? How can smaller farm organizations fit into the ever-growing 1,000-acre farm scene?

After nearly a century of prohibition, Canada became the first major economy this week to legalize recreational marijuana (though Uruguay was the first in 2013), and it has U.S. companies lining up.

As Oil And Gas Exports Surge, West Texas Becomes The World’s “Extraction Colony”

Oct 11, 2018
Jerod Foster / The Texas Tribune

An unprecedented drilling boom in the Permian Basin is great for business. But it’s polluting the air, overwhelming communities and threatening the planet.

From The Texas Tribune:

How a new oil boom is transforming West Texas, sending U.S. oil around the world and threatening efforts to fight climate change.

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