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

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Wednesday on deepening worries over a slowdown in the global economy.

The Dow closed down 800 points, or about 3%. Investors have been whipsawed in recent days by mixed signals emerging from the Trump administration about tariffs and the escalating trade war with China.

The jitters were exacerbated amid worrisome economic data from two big countries. Germany posted negative growth in the latest quarter, and China's growth in industrial output fell to a 17-year low.

In the first half of 2019, 38 businesses have announced plans to make investments in Oklahoma. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses the reason for this wave of investments and the potential economic impact on the state.

Walking through rows of growing crops helps farmers monitor for harmful insects, leaves that are damaged by disease or other problems that could reduce their overall harvest at the end of the season. 

And this year in Iowa, there’s a menace that, left to its own devices, could munch farmers out of profit. 

Critics of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to move two of its research agencies from Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City area got more ammunition this week.

Wichita — Sarah Stephens stands over a brightly lit table in a detached garage-turned-grow shed as she trims away unnecessary leaves from a recently harvested hemp plant.

When she’s finished, only the floral material of the plant will be left. The flowers will eventually be processed into CBD oil.

“We started out with not a ton of knowledge about it,” Michael Stephens, Sarah’s brother and partner at Tallgrass Hemp and Cannabis, said. “It’s been a learning experience.”

Updated at 5:34 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve is cutting interest rates for the first time in over a decade — a preemptive move aimed at extending the already record-long economic expansion.

The Fed on Wednesday lowered its target for the key federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point. The move should decrease the cost of borrowing, including for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages.

Sci-fi writers have long warned about the dangers of modifying organisms. They come in forms ranging from accidentally creating a plague of killer locusts (1957) to recreating dinosaurs with added frog genes (2015).

Now, with researchers looking to even more advanced gene-editing technology to protect crops, they’ll have to think about how to present that tech to a long-skeptical public. 

Presidio County is one of 22 in the state that still abides by open-range laws that allow cattle to roam, more or less, where they want. That means it’s perfectly legal for cattle to wander onto any unfenced property. But a 1980 “estray law,” which applies statewide, allows sheriffs to collect unidentifiable cattle. But that conflicts with the open-range laws in those counties. Now, Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to settle the dispute.

The demand for licenses to grow hemp has exceeded state officials' expectations. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses  profitable aspects of the hemp industry and how Oklahoma hopes to model its certification program on states like Colorado. 

The U.S. Census Bureau is having a tough time hiring workers in Texas for the 2020 Census, because the unemployment rate is so low – which means nonprofits and local governments may have to step in to make sure there's an accurate count.

There’s millions of dollars to be made from growing hemp, which for years was lumped in and vilified with its sister plant, marijuana. With the government loosening laws around growing hemp for the first time in more than 80 years, some states are charging ahead and letting farmers plant it — even before federal regulations are in place. 

Those states aren’t just getting a head start, though. They’re seeing significant challenges that hemp farmers will face for years to come, things like seed fraud, weather and a lack of machinery.

A Brazilian-owned meat processing company undercut its competition by more than $1 per pound to win nearly $78 million in pork contracts through a federal program launched to help American farmers offset the impact from an ongoing trade war.

As a result, JBS USA has won more than 26 percent of the $300 million the USDA has allocated to pork so far — more than any other company, according to an analysis of bid awards by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Texas Tops List Of "Best States To Start A Business"

Jul 9, 2019
Wallethub

If you’re planning to launch a business, Texas is the best state in which to do it, according to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub.

Two other HPPR states also landed in the top ten states for starting businesses, with Oklahoma at number five and Colorado at number 10. Kansas and Nebraska were also in the top half of states, landing at number 16 and 19 respectively.

Texas Panhandle Slow To Embrace Electric Vehicles

Jul 8, 2019
Public Domain via Pixabay

In recent years, electric vehicles have grown increasingly popular in Texas.

But, as The Amarillo Globe News reports, the new earth-friendly cars have yet to take off in the Panhandle.  According to area electric car dealers, there are a few factors slowing the sales of electric vehicles sales in Texas, and more specifically in the Panhandle.

Midwestern fish farmers grow a variety of species, such as tilapia, salmon, barramundi and shrimp, all of which require a high-protein diet. The region grows copious amounts of soybeans, which have a lot of protein, but these two facts have yet to converge.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

OPEC and other allied major oil producers have agreed to extend crude oil production cuts for nine months, a move designed to keep oil prices from falling as U.S. production increases and concerns grow about global demand.

Crude oil prices rose after early reports of OPEC's decision. However, prices are not expected to rise dramatically, as countries that don't cooperate with OPEC — like the United States — have enough capacity to meet projected growth in demand.

Update posted June 26, 2019 at 5:48 p.m.: A spokesperson with Clayton Homes says the company has reopened conversations with the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center about the properties they own in Dearfield. "Our hope is to find a way to support their goals while moving ahead with plans to establish affordable housing in the area," said a statement.

More than a dozen members of the liquor and wine industry filed a lawsuit this week asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to stop a law that — they say, will disrupt their business.

Colorado law enforcement announced in May that they’d seized what amounted to a small forest of marijuana: 80,000 individual plants and two tons of finished cannabis product. 

It was part of a sweeping marijuana bust, just the latest in the state’s crackdown on illegal cannabis. There have been more than 500 felony arrests and almost 100,000 plants seized between 2016 and 2017, according to the latest data from the Rocky Mountain HIDTA Colorado Task Force.

Between the growing warehouse district and the south side of Peoria, Illinois, sits 1312 SW Adams Street. The city-owned building looks like a great space for a haunted house: cracked paint, holes, shattered glass and pieces of drywall littering the staircases.

But officials and economic development groups have another idea. They put up booths and led tours of the building in late May, showing how it could be used to bring health services and healthy food to an area that’s been losing businesses like grocery stores and for years.

Organizers also envision it as a place for local farmers to team up and sell their food to places they might not otherwise provide a big enough bounty for.

From Texas Standard:

Most whiskey distillers will likely say that “aging” is a crucial part of their process. Aging is when the spirit is left to sit in a barrel, sometimes for years. The older the spirit, the better it will likely taste. But for Austin-based distillery, Still, it’s the grain from which the whiskey comes that also matters. Still uses 100-year-old heirloom wheat, which can be hard to come by. So it asked a Texas farmer to grow it.

The phrase "American soil" is commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can't be taken for granted, because nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

With a looming trade war with Mexico on the horizon, Texas’ proximity to its southern neighbor could spell economic trouble for the state’s consumers and workforce.

But it’s the added dynamic of how this country trades with Mexico that could do far greater damage to the state and national economies than President Donald Trump's current trade battles with China or Canada, analysts warn.

From Texas Standard:

Travis Krause grew up on the South Texas plains of Medina County, on land his family has been tending to since 1846. Krause always knew he wanted to carry on the tradition, but when he left the family ranch to study wildlife and fisheries sciences at Texas A&M University, his father encouraged him not to come back. For years, Krause’s dad wasn’t able to make a living from his cow and calf operation, and he didn’t want the same hardships for his son.

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

The Trump administration will provide $16 billion in aid to help keep farmers afloat as they reel from the yearlong trade war between the U.S. and China, the latest sign that the world's two largest economies are still far from striking a long-term trade agreement.

The bulk of the support, or about $14.5 billion, is direct aid to farmers, which producers will start to see some time this summer, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters in a briefing on Thursday.

Floodwaters on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers may be going down, but rain has continued to soak farmland around much of the state of Illinois, and more rain could be on the way later this month.

Wet fields make it hard to plant because farmers use large, heavy machinery in the fields. Even if a field is dry enough for equipment not to get stuck, too much pressure on wet soil makes it hard for seedlings to develop solid root systems.

Updated at 11:06 p.m. ET

Ahead of Uber's initial public offering, drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies went on strike Wednesday, turning off the apps as they flex their collective muscles to say: What about us?

Drivers in 10 cities across the country took action Wednesday to draw attention to what they say are decreasing wages for drivers and a distressing lack of job security — and some are calling on passengers to temporarily boycott the ride-hailing services, too.

A group of Midwestern feedlot operations have filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that several major meatpacking companies, including JBS, Cargill and Tyson, broke antitrust laws by conspiring to lower the prices paid to ranchers.   

In the past few years, price-fixing allegations have been leveled against poultry and pork industries. And it’s not clear whether any of the lawsuits for any type of meat producers will bring about reforms.

The ongoing effects of the trade war, severe weather and low crop prices have farmers reluctant to make big purchases like tractors, combines and planters. It was apparent in the U.S. Commerce Department’s new report, which shows farm equipment sales were down $900 million dollars over the first three months of 2019.

That’s the biggest decline in sales since 2016.

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