Business Beat

Wednesdays at 5:20pm and Thursdays at 8:21am

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

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Business
5:08 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Mo. state prison's maintenance blues

Kary Scott shares a dance with his service dog, Cisco, at the "Inside the Walls" festival promoting the Missouri State Penitentiary as a tourist destination.
Lukas Udstuen KBIA

As a 5-piece band wound its way through an acoustic set of music, guests slowly shuffled into the “Inside the Walls” festival at the Missouri State Penitentiary. To the southwest, the main entrance to the prison towered over the festival.

Charles Vaughan used to live in a house across the street. He remembers the 1954 riots, which were the worst in the history of the penitentiary. Vaughan remembers his dad and brother were on top of a nearby building with guns.

“There was a big fire going on," he said. "My mom was keeping me in the house which upset me because I wanted to get on the roof and my mom was piling furniture right in front of the front door.”

But now the penitentiary looks much lonelier. Its paint peels. Some of its buildings have been torn down. In fact — of those that remain, some parts are even off limits to tours – this is due to a process Steve Picker calls “demolition by neglect.” He’s the former executive director of the Jefferson City Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

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Agriculture
4:19 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Water resources are stretched

Water levels are down in some reservoirs thanks to a drought that forced farmers to heavily irrigate their crops.
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.

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Business Beat
2:07 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

Should dairy farmers cut cow tails?

This cow is getting a hair cut on her tail so her milker won't get whacked in the face with manure.
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.

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Agriculture
5:50 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Here's the short story on cow tails

Scott Poock, veterinarian for the University of Missouri Extension, demonstrates an alternative to cow tail docking at Foremost Dairy: trimming the switch off of a cow's 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.

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Business Beat
4:44 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Higher percentage: ethanol in gas, hogs sent to market

Some U.S. gas pumps feature gas with 15 percent ethanol in the 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.

Agriculture
4:31 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Low feed means more hogs sent to market

This little piggy went to market. So did a lot of the others.
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."

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Agriculture
4:02 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Gas with more ethanol available at some pumps

Gas with 15 percent ethanol is making its way to some U.S. gas stations.
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.

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Business
3:51 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Job type plays role in unemployment across gender, race

Job differences between men, women and racial groups play a role in the U.S. unemployment rate.
ForwardSTL

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

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Business Beat
3:35 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Drought-resistant corn tested; unemployment in women, minorities

Corn is facing a tough test during this summer's drought, but a hybrid strain could help production output during waterless times.
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.

Agriculture
3:21 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Drought-resistant corn faces real-life test

Corn has had a tough time thriving in this summer's drought. A new hybrid strain might solve that problem.
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.

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Business Beat
6:48 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

The drought and the Midwestern economy

This pasture usually has fescue grass that's up to 10 inches high. But there have been just two inches of rain here in the past two months.
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

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Business Beat
5:51 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

What affects gun sales in Missouri?

A shooter fires an AR-15 assault rifle
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.

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Business Beat
5:56 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Farm bill holdup leaves farmers in limbo

Ed Greiman, a cattle producer and president-elect of the Iowa Cattlemen, climbs onto the front of a truck hauling silage on his ranch near Garner, Iowa. Like other ranchers, he's getting a feel for what life would be like without a farm bill.
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.

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Business Beat
10:34 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Huge food distributor phasing out gestation crates in pork production

Elite Pork Partnership keeps sows and piglets inside in facilities like this one Carroll, Iowa
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.

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Business Beat
6:06 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Entrepreneurship increases in economic recession, new study says

Maria Figueroa-Armijos is a doctoral student in the University of Missouri Truman School of Public Affairs
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.

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