Business Beat

Wednesdays at 5:20pm and Thursdays at 8:21am
  • Hosted by Lauren Langille

A weekly look at business issues important to mid-Missouri.

American airlines
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May is the third month in a row that the City of Columbia has not had to pay American Airlines guaranteed money for serving Columbia Regional Airport. 

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A Columbia biotech company has announced plans to commercialize its products around the globe.  EternoGen, LLC. develops collagen-based products for minimally invasive surgical procedures.  KBIA’s Ben Wilson has more on the company’s expansion.

The Columbia City Council recently voted in favor of purchasing 16 natural gas-powered vehicles along with building a natural gas fueling station in northeast Columbia. KBIA’s Rickelle Pimentel tells us why some community members aren’t as excited about this decision.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Our neighboring city of Independence, Mo., is going green with its lighting over the few years. 

At the 81st annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Las Vegas last past weekend, Independence announced its plans to partner with Philips Lighting on an energy and maintenance saving project.

Crop insurance is a big part of the farm bill debate in Washington this year. The Senate recently passed a bill that would expand the heavily subsidized program. And now the House is zeroing in on the issue. Several amendments to the farm bill pending in the House would curb how much the government provides to cut the cost farmers pay for crop insurance. But, premiums aren’t the only part of the system supported by tax payers. Crop insurance companies also enjoy lots of government largess. Harvest Public Media’s Frank Morris reports.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Drought conditions in much of the country have eased, but the Great Plains region is still in rough shape. Last year’s dryness pushed the nation’s cattle herd to its lowest numbers since the 1950s. Dry conditions this summer could cause the herd to dwindle even further. As Harvest Public Media's Luke Runyon reports from Colorado, that means beef prices are on the rise this summer just in time for grilling season.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

On this week's Business Beat: 47 million Americans are enrolled in the SNAP program, or food stamps, including nearly 16 percent of Missourians.  SNAP is the biggest spending item in the farm bill. And the program has a big bulls eye on it as Congress debates new legislation. As Grant Gerlock reports for Harvest Public Media, the economic considerations go beyond who receives SNAP benefits to how and where the money is spent.

Dozens of Ste. Genevieve County residents met last night (Tuesday) with the company applying to open up a sand mine in their neighborhood. Locals fired questions at Mark Rust, owner of Summit Proppants, for four hours about health concerns, traffic safety and property values.

Missouri voters will get the chance to consider a constitutional amendment next fall that would affirm the rights of farmers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices. The state House and Senate passed the measure during the end of the legislative session last week. Harvest Public Media reports.

rustinpc / flickr

With a new farm bill, farmers may have access to fewer dollars for conservation. For 27 years, the popular Conservation Reserve Program has transformed small parcels of land, contributing to cleaner water, more habitat for migrating birds and less soil erosion. But as Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports from Iowa, the program has been enrolling fewer acres in recent years and it’s not just budget cuts that could make it smaller still.

Andrew Yost / KBIA

Coming up we’ll hear about the new grocery store opening up show in downtown Columbia. But first, more than 20 years after being listed as an endangered species, the pallid sturgeon is just treading water in the Missouri River. Manmade channels, impounds and dams, commercial fishing and environmental contaminants all had been fingered in the demise of the species.

 Photo 3: Members of the communities surrounding Fort Leonard Wood gathered Tuesday to discuss the U.S. Army proposal to remove troops from the fort. Under the proposal, the fort could lose as many of 4,000 of its troops.Edit | Remove

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The pork business certainly has its challenges. Hog farmers continually grapple with high feed prices, environmental hiccups and criticism from animal welfare groups. But some producers are creating a path to profitability by pursuing smaller, more specialized markets. From Iowa, Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer has the story of Eden Farms.

Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Gluten-free diets. They bar most beers, breads and cakes among other foods, because they contain wheat, rye and barley. The trendy diet is wildly popular today which is surprising, given that experts estimate only about 1 percent of the U.S. population suffers from Celiac disease, the disorder that causes their immune systems to reject the pesky gluten. But as Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson reports, this diet fad and others are largely driven by Americans’ growing appetite for food solutions to their health woes.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Before the American Revolution, before the Civil War, before Lewis and Clark came through here, a huge tree has been standing in central Missouri, growing to 90-feet tall. The beloved bur oak – which everybody calls "The Big Tree" -- has survived floods, lightning strikes and all kinds of punishments during her 350 years on the prairie. But, as Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe reports, last year’s record drought was especially hard on the Big Tree.

Over the last year or so, at least 20 states have introduced bills that would require labeling of genetically modified food. The common point of contention is the pervasiveness of grains that have had their DNA altered. But some of these proposed laws – including one in Missouri – take aim specifically at genetically engineered meat or fish. And that got Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson wondering: How close are we to actually eating genetically engineered animals? What she found out might surprise you.

Coming up we’ll delve into a small school district trying to get a bond passed for the third time.

But first, grain elevators across the country store billions of bushels of farm products like corn and wheat. They’re a staple of rural communities. But the dust that piles up in grain storage facilities is highly combustible – it can be six times more explosive than gun powder. Just one spark can send a blast that will shake the ground for miles.

Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

Whole Foods Market recently announced that by 2018, all products in its U-S and Canadian stores containing genetically modified organisms will be clearly labeled as such. The decision by the grocery chain -- which has been labeling some products as non-GMO for years now -- has pushed this strongly debated food labeling issue into the shopping aisle.

The real action, though, is heating up in state legislatures across the country. Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress Swanson explains.

Not many of us are chemists.

Money
Andrew Magill

Coming up we’ll tackle sequestration which is set to occur March 1. But first, when a large group of farmers in the Southeast banded together to sue a powerful dairy cooperative a few years ago, many hoped that the case would bring big changes to the industry. But as Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media reports, the recent settlement of the case involving Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America has resulted in some money for small farmers in the short term but little long-term reform.

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Barring a congressional miracle,  Medicare payments to health care providers throughout the country will see a 2 percent reduction come Friday. That amount might not sound like much, but rural hospitals and their surrounding communities are the ones that would feel most of the pinch.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Coming up we’ll kick off a three-part series from Harvest Public Media on the Science of the Seed. For the introductory report, Amy Mayer explores the origins of gene transformation.

But let’s first start in Columbia where as of February, landlords are required to maintain a list of all tenants. It’s part of a new occupancy limitation disclosure ordinance recently passed by the City Council. KBIA’s Andrew Yost reports that the ordinance deals with several overcrowding issues concerning neighbors.

Lukas Udstuen / KBIA

The most recent U.S. census shows the nation’s population is in flux. While some cities across the country are growing, many small towns are dwindling. KBIA’s Lukas Udstuen takes us to Goss, one of the smallest towns in Missouri. You might miss it if it weren’t for a few road signs marking its location along Route 24 in Monroe County. And you’re most likely out of luck if you stop in Goss for directions because the 2010 Census reported the town has zero residents.

Check out more details about how Goss came about and see an audio slide show here.

Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

Later, we check in with a revised Environmental Protection Agency standard that could help some wastewater treatment facilities struggling to comply with part of the Clean Water Act’s deadline.

Abbie Fentriss Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and ranchers across the country expected to start the New Year with a new farm bill, the all-important legislation setting agricultural policy for the next five years.

As House and Senate negotiators worked feverishly at the turn of the year to come to a fiscal cliff deal, word leaked that the Agriculture Committees had finally come to an agreement on a long-awaited new farm bill. But the final fiscal cliff deal ditched new legislation and merely extended parts of the bill that expired in October. Jeremy Bernfeld reports the extension left many farmers frustrated.

Jacob McCleland / KRCU

The lingering drought continues to keep the Mississippi River at historically low levels. But now the Army Corps of Engineers says the river will likely stay open for transportation at least through this month. But many grain and energy industries that send products up and down the river aren’t yet breathing a sigh of relief. Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters reports from the Corn Belt where a lot of grain begin its journey south down the Mississippi.

Money
File Photo / KBIA

Did you feel that pullback January 1st? That was Congress finally passing a compromise bill to prevent the country from careening off the fiscal cliff. In the early hours of 2013, the Senate passed the bill. And much later that day, the House passed it.

images_of_money / Flickr

Had a hamburger lately? The cow it came from likely passed through a feedlot – a huge farm that fattens cattle before they’re slaughtered. The thousands of cattle housed at a feedlot produce tons and tons of waste. That manure can be used as a valuable fertilizer. But if it’s not properly disposed, it could lead to an environmental disaster. In Day 4 of Harvest Public Media’s series, America’s Big Beef, Jeremy Bernfeld reports.

Adam Kuban/flickr / http://www.flickr.com/photos/slice/482963344/

Columbia City Council is considering an ordinance that would put a temporary abeyance on demolition permits in downtown Columbia. This comes on the heels of a petition to demolish the oldest building downtown. KBIA’s Ryan Famuliner has a report on the zoning classification the council is looking at.

Hilary Stohs-Krause / NET

Over the next four weeks, Business Beat will be airing the remaining pieces of the Harvest Public Media series called America’s Big Beef: An Industry In Transition.

To kick off the series, we have to go back 150 years when Abraham Lincoln established the land-grant colleges where research could be done to help the common man. But Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media reports that today public colleges in the top five beef-producing states are now often working for big business.

Corn
jungmoon / Flickr

In recent months, a fairly severe drought and a slowly recovering economy have thrown food businesses for a loop.

Coming up we’ll listen in on a conversation Abbie Fentress Swanson had with President Barack Obama’s top agriculture guy about the looming dip in corn exports. But first, some businesses have been able to weather the storm better than others. Jennifer Davidson has this report about one successful shop in West Plains.

Now, things aren’t so peachy for everyone in the food industry. Clearly.

Pat Blank / Iowa Public Radio

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, many people have begun to deck the halls, gorge on delectable dishes, and send out greeting cards. Well, that last one might become trickier for some rural residents soon. That’s because the United States Postal Service is moving ahead to reduce the hours of thousands of post offices across the country.  Jennifer Davidson has this report from a rural Ozarks community.

Now that it’s Thanksgiving, the eating season has begun. Coming up we’ll take a look at how the U.S. helps feed the world, but first, let’s take a look in our own back yard. The local food banks, pantries, shelters and soup kitchens have picked up in business. KBIA’s Ben Mahnken reports that volunteerism and donations are up this year.

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