Business Beat

Wednesdays at 4:45 p.m.

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

Water resources are stretched

Oct 3, 2012
Water drop
File Photo / KBIA

Nebraska irrigates more acres of farmland than any other state in the nation. Kansas is also near the top.

And that Irrigation infrastructure came in handy this summer. A University of Nebraska Lincoln studyfound the drought could shrink corn yields by 40 percent this year in dryland fields in Iowa. But yields for irrigated corn in Nebraska may end up only 8 percent lower than expected.

“We’ve been hearing reports over 200 (bushels/acre). Probably a lot of guys are hoping for 185-200. That’d be very good,” said Gib Kelly, who traveled from the north -central Nebraska town of Page to look at the newest irrigation equipment at the annual Husker Harvest Days farm show in Grand Island, Neb.

But irrigation has its limits. There were times over the hot summer months when Mark Scott’s groundwater wells couldn’t keep up.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

To dock or not to dock? That is the question.

Well, that’s the question some Midwest dairy farmers are debating now that the National Milk Producers Federation has taken a stand against the widespread practice of cutting off cow tails -- or tail docking. It started decades ago as a method to stop the spread of disease because the tails often becomes slimed with manure. Recent studies suggest the practice isn't necessarily effective, but many dairy farmers still employ the technique to avoid a face full of slimy cow tail.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Many people who haven’t stepped foot on a dairy might think milking a cow is a sort of Emersonian back-to-the land moment, where a milker bonds with his or her cow while communing with nature. Just milk her for a while and voilà: fresh, creamy milk. But the truth is, milking can be a very dirty job.

Pumping gas
File Photo / KBIA

There’s a new kind of gas on the market, with more ethanol in it than the gas we usually put in our cars. That’s beneficial for corn farmers who grow the corn that ethanol is made from and want more of it in your gas. But while the ethanol industry fought for years to bring this fuel to the market, now that they’ve won… good luck finding it. Even in Corn Country, pickings are slim.

Low feed means more hogs sent to market

Sep 19, 2012
USGS / Wikimedia Commons

The gravel road leading to Harrison Creek Farms is sandwiched between one field of withering corn, and one field of stunted soybeans. The drought has hurt farmers like Kenny Brinker who owns Brinker Farms and Harrison Creek Farms in Auxvasse, Mo.

“The hog farm we have here in Callaway County is what you call your standard feral to finish operation," he says. "We own the hogs ourselves."

Pumping gas
File Photo / KBIA

Head to your local filling station and you might see a new blend of gas at the pump. After a three-year regulatory process, the Environmental Protection Agency approved E15 – gas made with 15 percent ethanol – this summer.

Most gas we pump is already blended with ethanol, sometimes it contains as much as 10 percent, but the ethanol industry fought hard to bring E15 to the market. For ethanol backers and the farmers who feed the ethanol industry, getting drivers to pump gas with 50 percent more ethanol is a big win.

Unemployment office

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent in July, but several groups are still feeling the heat more than others. 

CraneStation / Flickr

Growing across the Midwest is a strain of hybrid corn that should perform well under the driest conditions. Harvest Public Media’s Rick Fredericksen says this summer’s parched farmland is providing an ideal test.

Drought-resistant corn faces real-life test

Sep 12, 2012
Peter Blanchard / Flickr

The sub-par corn harvest of 2012 is coming in early, after the worst growing conditions in more than 2 decades.

“We’ve been really dry all summer," farmer Bill Simmons says. "I talked to an older gentleman some time ago that said he had taken  47 crops off of his farm and this was about the worst that he’d ever seen it."

Simmons is combining 13-hundred acres of corn on the Clan Farm outside Atlantic, Iowa. Multiple varieties were planted, but one field turned out to be especially interesting: a 300-acre section devoted to AQUAmax, a new drought-resistant product from DuPont Pioneer.

The drought and the Midwestern economy

Sep 5, 2012
Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

If you've been out of town for a little while, then you this might be news: this rain we've been getting is a rare, rare, thing. Yes, the drought has been on our minds--and the radio--all summer long and a little rain this week doesn't change the fact that it's been devastating to farmers and the economy

What affects gun sales in Missouri?

Aug 22, 2012
ar 15
Schlüsselbein2007 / Flickr

It’s a commonplace that high profile shootings like the ones in Colorado and Wisconsin can drive gun sales up.  Campaign politics have an effect too.  This week we’ll take a look at the gun industry and find out just what influences gun sales in Missouri.

At a recent gun show in St. Louis, there are about 30 or so tables crammed into the hotel conference room.  That’s 30 different vendors all competing with each other to sell guns, knives and accessories.  If you’re a buyer looking for a deal, there’s no better place to be.

Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

This week on the show, what would happen if Congress doesn’t pass a farm bill? Plus, a quick check in on the new student-oriented bus route in Columbia, that started running this week; and what it might mean for the city’s overall transit system.

Sarah McCammon / Harvest Public Media

This week: North America’s largest food distributor is phasing out its use of gestation crates in pork production. Plus, a story about the drought’s impact on ranchers in the Midwest.

maria figueroa armijos
University of Missouri

Microsoft, Staples, and SouthWest Airlines.

What do these companies have in common? Yes, they're big companies, they employ a lot of people and they're successful. But here's one more thing--all of these companies were created in a period of economic downturn.  The Fortune 500 is littered with stories like this.

Business Beat spoke with Maria Figueroa-Armijos who's one of the authors of a new study which suggests that certain types of entrepreneurs are on the rise and it’s not in spite of the recession--it’s because of it.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

This week on the show: Harvest Public Media’s Frank Morris follows the river to show the impact of this year’s drought.

Scott Pham / KBIA

It’s going to seem like this week’s show is all about keeping cows cool, and it kind of is, but keep in mind this is a serious threat to agriculture in Missouri, and thus, the overall economy in the state.

Dave Oster / Rockupied

This week: an app may help the Columbia Transit system deal with an unengaged ridership. Plus, Harvest Public Media looks at the lasting impact of the Homestead Act.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Visits from foreign buyers play a role in sustaining certain agriculture markets in the Midwest. Plus, educators, designers and engineers team up to try to fund the next big innovation for small farms.

Grant Gerlock / for Harvest Public Media

This week on the show: an enzyme factory aims to be a big part of the ethanol industry, and a business incubator in Columbia lands a state tax credit.


This week on Business Beat: an active tech industry in Columbia is seeing a talent deficiency in some areas. Plus, a jump in home sales in Mid-Missouri.

Sandhya Dirks / Harvest Public Media

A war over words is part of a bigger struggle between agriculture interests and their critics. Plus, a national report looks at agriculture research grants from private corporations to land grant Universities, including MU.

A researcher at the University of Missouri is trying to find a way to track the most productive cattle to predict future profits. Plus, a quick update on the rise in Missouri’s state revenue last month, and what that might mean for state funding levels.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

This week on the show: Columbia’s City Manager talks about the direction of the local economy. Plus, farmers continue to plant corn despite failing efforts to combat rootworm.

Samantha Sunne / KBIA

An update on the EEZ in Columbia. Plus, some say the situation at the old Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City is getting desperate.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A Columbia lawyer is utilizing a federal program to try to bring so-called, “immigrant investors” to Mid Missouri. Plus, Harvest Public Media reports on the lasting effects of last year’s flooding.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

This week: Harvest Public Media takes an in depth look into rural commodity brokers, and the tug of war battle between MF Global and rural farmers, and a look back on the store Cool Stuff.

Eva Dou / KBIA

This week: Columbia’s biggest export to China isn’t corn, soybeans, or any manufactured product.  It’s scrap metal.  In fact trade experts are calling Columbia’s export “waste and scrap.” Plus, find out how one farmer is still shifting through the aftermath after losing hundreds of acres of farmland.

Trying to keep rural towns alive

Apr 19, 2012
WenDee Rowe LaPlant / Kansas Sampler Foundation

This week on the show, people in rural areas are trying to figure out how to keep youth – and jobs – in their areas. Plus, college graduates could have a better opportunity getting a job than graduates have in the past.

Trying to keep rural towns alive

Apr 19, 2012
WenDee Rowe LaPlant / Kansas Sampler Foundation

This week on the show, people in rural areas are trying to figure out how to keep youth – and jobs – in their areas. Plus, college graduates could have a better opportunity getting a job than graduates have in the past.

Business Beat: Railroad Looking to Roll Again

Apr 11, 2012
Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

This week: Find out how one community is going back in time to move businesses forward.  Plus, what dairy farmers want more protection in the 2012 Farm Bill.