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

Farmers have been struggling for years to hire enough workers, and increasingly turn to the H-2A temporary visa program.

Previously, farmers took out print newspaper ads for positions they were hiring for. But starting in late October, the U.S. Department of Labor will manage those postings on a government website and use state workforce agencies to advertise jobs locally.

The House of Representatives passed legislation that would make it easier for licensed marijuana businesses to access financial services.

In a ripple effect of the General Motors strike, now in its second week, 66 maintenance workers have been laid off from their jobs at the Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas.

Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc., a commercial real estate firm that provides maintenance services at the plant, said in a letter to the United Auto Workers that the workers were “not deemed critical to operations during this period of labor unrest.”

On a hot September day, five Japanese men arrived at Rod Pierce’s central Iowa farm. They represented feed mills and livestock cooperatives, and were there to see the corn they may eventually buy. 

Pierce invited them to walk among his rows of corn, climb into the cab of an 8-head combine and poke their heads into one his empty grain storage bins. 

The national average price for corn this season is back to $3.60 a bushel, about where it’s been most of this year except for an early-season spike ($4.16 in July) before the size and quality of the crop was known. 

That’s not great news for corn growers, and for the ethanol part of the market, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates are even worse.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates Wednesday for the second time in seven weeks, in an effort to prolong the decade-old economic expansion in the face of rising headwinds.

The Fed lowered its target for the federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point, to a range of 1.75% to 2%. President Trump, who has been calling for deeper rate cuts, criticized the move as another "fail" by the Fed. Major stock indexes fell after the central bank's announcement but later recovered.

For the first time in half a century, the U.S. government just revised the way that it inspects pork slaughterhouses. The change has been long in coming. It's been debated, and even tried out at pilot plants, for the past 20 years. It gives pork companies themselves a bigger role in the inspection process. Critics call it privatization.

Wrens chirp and butterflies fly between clover blossoms in a pasture in northeast Nebraska. It’s a serene scene until Dave Wright calls his cows and calves with a sharp, bellowing “Come boss!”

This is the beginning of the beef production chain. Nebraska’s a major link with 6.8 million cows (compared to its 1.9 million people), and its neighbors also lie squarely in cattle country; Kansas has 6.3 million cattle and Colorado 2.8 million. Nebraska also exports a great deal, too: $1.4 billion of the United States’ $8.33 billion yearly. 

The national average price for corn this season is back to $3.60 a bushel, about where it’s been most of this year except for an early-season spike ($4.16 in July) before the size and quality of the crop was known.

That’s not great news for corn growers, and for the ethanol part of the market, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates are even worse.

Over the last five years, almost 15,000 workers disappeared from the Kansas workforce.

During the same timeframe, the state is growing economically, with a recent monthly report showing 14,000 jobs created in the last year and unemployment at 3.3%. That’s below the national rate. 

Despite the good news, Kansas officials see a long-term challenge: having enough employees to fill the state’s jobs, especially in high-demand careers like nursing and accounting.

A ceremony Monday at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs marked the official re-opening of the U.S. Space Command. 

Researchers at Oklahoma State University are working on turning beer waste into food.

When beer is made, starch and sugars are extracted from the grain, but the solid material is left as waste—nearly 52 pounds for every barrel brewed.

It’s a difficult year for many farmers in the United States.  A wet spring flooded crops and delayed planting across the Midwest, while trade conflicts with China and other countries continue to wreak chaos on incomes.

For some farms, this year’s losses, even with federal trade-relief payments, will force them to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. And that's easier now that a new law raised the level of debt allowed for a Chapter 12 filing.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

U.S. employers added 130,000 jobs in August, according to a monthly snapshot from the Labor Department, signaling a slowdown in the pace of job growth.

Forecasters surveyed by the Reuters news service had predicted job gains of around 158,000.

The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%.

The jobs total would have been lower without the addition of 25,000 temporary census jobs. Job gains for the two previous months were revised downward by a total of 20,000.

As a teenager, Vince Sanders watched his father go to prison. He dropped out of school and ended up serving time himself.

It makes an unlikely history for the 55-year-old founder of a fast-growing retail chain who owes his fall and rise to the cannabis plant.

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for a major rollback of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. In Texas, environmentalists and even some in the industry are arguing in favor of keeping the rules.

CORINNE BOYER / KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will begin investigating beef prices. The action comes after a fire shut down production at a Tyson meatpacking plant in western Kansas.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue released a statement Wednesday directing the agency to investigate beef prices.

The Making Of Koch Industries

Aug 28, 2019

You won't see its name on many products but the Wichita-based conglomerate touches the lives of most Americans.

Charles and David Koch took their father's oil-refining business and converted it into the second largest privately held corporation in North America. Business writer Chris Leonard discussed what has been behind the brothers' success, their past transgressions against Native Americans and environmental law, and their influence on American politics.

David Koch, who built one of the nation's largest private businesses with his brother Charles and pumped money into conservative groups to help reshape American politics, has died.

Charles Koch confirmed the news in a statement on Friday that referenced David's long-running ailment.

Updated at 11:35 a.m. ET

Signaling the possibility of more interest-rate cuts, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank will "act as appropriate" to sustain the economic expansion as the trade war with China takes a toll on global growth and the U.S. economy.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday announced higher tariffs on goods from China, hours after Beijing said it will slap tariffs on $75 billion of autos and other U.S. goods. Earlier in the day, he "ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China though it was unclear whether he had the power to do that.

The lunch rush is over at a popular, cozy restaurant in a city somewhere in Missouri. The owner, Lynn, is sipping a glass of pinot grigio as her cooking crew cleans up.

Like thousands of other restaurants across America, Lynn's kitchen is staffed mainly with unauthorized Latino workers. She agreed to openly discuss this employment conundrum if NPR agreed not to give her last name, identify her restaurant, name the city, or even specify the type of cuisine. Like a lot of employers these days, she doesn't want to attract the attention of federal immigration agents.

Four people have been sentenced in what the federal government calls the largest organic fraud case in U.S. history. All of the farmers previously pled guilty to the scheme, which brought in millions of dollars.

A cattle slaughterhouse and feedlot near Powell Gardens says it has closed instead of keeping up a drawn-out legal battle over its planned expansion.

Updated at 4:26 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is acting as a cheering section for the U.S. economy. And at least on Monday, investors were cheering along. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose nearly 250 points or 1%. The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% and the Nasdaq was up 1.35%.

President Trump and his team are downplaying warnings of slower economic growth, despite signals from the bond market that a recession could be looming. At the same time, the president is also calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates again to help boost growth.

A monthly report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture assessing the global supply and demand of key crops had mixed messages for Midwest farmers Monday.

Updated at 4:32 p.m. ET

Investors paused to catch their breath Thursday, one day after the stock market suffered its worst drop of the year. Market indexes closed up modestly as investors digested mixed signals about prospects for the U.S. economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 100 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 rose 0.25%.

Asian and European markets put in a mixed performance a day after fears of a looming global recession triggered an 800-point drop in the Dow — one of the biggest one-day sell-offs on Wall Street ever.

In Asia, indexes in China and Hong Kong were mostly in positive territory, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng both posting modest gains. South Korea and India were also up.

An epidemic of African Swine Fever is sweeping through China's hog farms, and the effects are rippling across the globe, because China is a superpower of pork. Half of the world's pigs live in China — or at least they did before the epidemic began a year ago.

"Every day, we hear of more outbreaks," says Christine McCracken, a senior analyst at RaboResearch, which is affiliated with the global financial firm Rabobank.

Red Godwin pours a beer behind the bar at Zilker Brewery in Austin. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed new laws that will allow breweries to sell beer to go out of their taprooms, and allow food and wine retailers to deliver beer or wine directly to customers. The new laws go into effect Sept. 1Credit Sergia Flores / The Texas TribuneEdit | Remove

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