Business

Business Beat
2:13 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Business Beat: Columbia's major export to world power is scrap

A pile of copper wire at Fusselman Salvage. Copper is the top type of scrap that Missouri exports in dollar value
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.

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Business
2:05 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Recovering from historic flood

Olson planted a cover crop of oats to hold this flooded soil in place, but even weeds are growing poorly.
Grant Gerlock Harvest Public Media

Scott Olson is getting ready to plant corn and soybeans, but he wonders if anything will grow.

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Business
5:23 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Missouri House approves new development incentives

 

Missouri lawmakers are aiming to attract large economic development projects with a new type of incentive modeled on a strategy used elsewhere.

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Intersection
6:00 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Engaging communities

Watch the show and join the conversation on the Intersection website.

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Business
5:55 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Columbia could potentially use more natural gas fuel in the future

Columbia could be the next city in Missouri to bring natural gas fuel to residents.

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Business
5:18 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Columbia Farmers Market bus route has yet to gain popularity

Flickr Natalie Maynor

The new bus route that goes from the M-U student center to the Columbia Farmers Market has yet to attract many passengers.

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The China Connection
11:46 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Video: Missouri’s top export to China: Scrap metal

A pile of copper wire at Fusselman Salvage. Copper is the top type of scrap that Missouri exports in dollar value.
Eva Dou KBIA

At this scrap yard in north Columbia, it’s easy to think the piles of rusty metal and old machine parts are, well, just junk.

But these broken motors and tangled copper wire are actually one of Missouri’s biggest links to China. China may be a hot target these days for U.S. manufacturers looking for a market to sell their products, but the fastest growing American export to China last year was actually what trade experts call “waste and scrap.”

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Business
4:37 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Mo. offering tax break on Energy Star appliances

MayTag Square Flickr

Shoppers have a few days to save a few dollars on appliances bought in Missouri, thanks to temporary state tax break.

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Business Beat
11:00 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Trying to keep rural towns alive

A small group gets the discussion rolling at the Big Rural Brainstorm in Newton, Kan.
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.

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Business Beat
10:56 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Trying to keep rural towns alive

A small group gets the discussion rolling at the Big Rural Brainstorm in Newton, Kan.
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.

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Business
9:35 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Rural America is fighting for its survival

A small group gets the discussion rolling at the Big Rural Brainstorm in Newton, Kan.
WenDee Rowe LaPlant Kansas Sampler Foundation

The 2010 Census found that the share of people in rural areas over the past decade fell to 16 percent, passing the previous low of 20 percent in 2000. The rural population is aging, and young people are moving away.

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Business
9:13 am
Wed April 18, 2012

March Missouri unemployment numbers steady

Missouri added about 4,800 jobs in March as its unemployment rate remained steady.

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Business
4:39 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Hotels support smaller tax increase for airport improvements

The head of a Columbia Chamber of Commerce task force trying to find ways to improve air travel in Mid-Missouri says it will consider a smaller hotel tax increase, now that a larger one has appeared to stall. Greg Steinhoff says hotel owners in Columbia weren’t thrilled with the idea of a 3 percent increase to the hotel tax, with the proceeds to be used for airport upgrades. But now that an organization representing those owners has said it would support a 1 percent hotel tax increase, Steinhoff says his task force will try to figure out how far that money would go.

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Business
3:07 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Council to discuss Westwood Avenue trees issue

The Columbia City Council will review the removal of trees on Westwood Avenue tonight.

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Business Beat
2:15 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Business Beat: Railroad Looking to Roll Again

Cows at Terry Van Maanen's farm in Sioux County, Iowa, wait to be milked.
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.

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Business
1:46 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Railroad Looking to Roll Again

Unused for years, the train tracks at the Farmers' Co-op Association in Forest City, Iowa, are set to see rail cars again soon.
Dean Borg Harvest Public Media

It’s been seven years since folks around Forest City, Iowa, have heard a train whistle on the nearby tracks. But Iowa Northern locomotives will soon be switching railcars alongside the towering grain silos at the town’s co-op elevator.

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Business
1:38 pm
Wed April 11, 2012

Dairy Farmers Looking for Change

Cows at Terry Van Maanen's farm in Sioux County, Iowa, wait to be milked.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

Many dairymen are calling the government price support system broken, but just how to fix it isn't clear. There's debate over how much the government should step in to help in tough times and as to what degree it should let the free market govern.  

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Business
11:08 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Unemployment decrease leads to end of benefits program

A decrease in jobless claims has led to the end of a Missouri extended benefits program.
forwardstl flickr

A decrease in the percent of Missourians who are unemployed has led to the cancellation of the extended benefits unemployment program.

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Business
5:52 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Columbia says no to multi-space parking meters

The City of Columbia Public Works Department recently decided to end the trial period for multi-space parking meters on Ninth Street from between Broadway and Locust.

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Business
5:13 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

New bus route to Columbia Farmers Market

Last Saturday was the first day of a new bus route that takes passengers from the University of Missouri Student Center to the Columbia Farmers Market.

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Business
5:07 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

Some Missourians lose unemployment benefit

Missourians are no longer eligible for the Extended Benefit (EB) unemployment program because the States unemployment rate has dropped.

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Business
4:47 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

1,500 veterans hired through new program

The jobless rate for veterans remains high, but a Missouri program is making inroads in changing that.

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Business Beat
4:28 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Business Beat: Govenors Back Beef Trimmings

Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., left, introduces the beef product known as pink slime or lean finely textured beef, and the cuts from which it is made to.
AP

This week: U.S. farmers made over 98 billion dollars last year, and consumers are upset about "lean beef trimmings," but governors are trying to diffuse the situation.

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Business
3:49 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Farmers Support Illegal Immigrant Work Program

T.J. Curtis, a western Kansas farmer, traveled to the state capitol in support of a bill that would establish a state-sanctioned program to assist undocumented workers gets jobs.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

It’s a long way from Forget-Me-Not Farms to the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka.

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Business Beat
3:31 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Business Beat: March 21, 2012

T.J. Curtis, a western Kansas farmer, traveled to the state capitol in support of a bill that would establish a state-sanctioned program to assist undocumented workers gets jobs.
Peggy Lowe Harvest Public Media

This week: A Fulton developer plans to break ground on a biodiesel factory this spring. The project’s been in the works for five years, and find out why U.S. farmers are pushing for state sanctioned work programs for illegal immigrants. 

Business
3:24 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

N-BAF Report Cuts Risk of Pathogen Exposure

Big Stock Image

The risk of a pathogen release at the controversial National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility being built in Manhattan, Kan., is much less than originally calculated, according to a new, much-anticipated report from the Department of Homeland Security.

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Business
3:12 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

California Farmers Worry about Climate Regulations

Walnut farmer Russ Lester is concerned about the effects climate change could bring to his California farm.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

No matter your personal opinion on the subject, talk of climate usually conjures up images of warming, floods and rising sea levels.  Those are some ecological changes predicted from coast to coast.

In the Midwest, the few degrees of warming has actually benefited agriculture, on average. But in California – where they grow more than 200 crops, including perennials such as walnuts and apricots – some crops could be adversely affected.  Plus, California farmers also have new climate change regulations to contend with, which worry many growers more than the weather.

Rising temperatures

To produce a robust walnut crop, you need the right weather, according to California walnut grower Russ Lester, whose family has been farming in the state since the 1860s.  He is concerned about how the rising temperatures could affect his walnut crops.

Climate change predictions in his neck of the woods show 1 to 2 degrees of warming. And much of that warming is happening in the winter. That could be a problem.

"Walnuts actually do need a certain amount of what we call chilling hours," Lester said.

He's referring to the thousand or so hours of temperatures below 45 degrees that the trees need for winter dormancy. The cold weather actually triggers the plant to bloom vigorously in the spring. Unlike with some trees, in walnuts, the male and female flowers are separate, so having the blooms all open at once is vital.   

"If we don’t have it overlapping during the right time period, then the pollen won't pollinate the female flower or floret," Lester said. "That's why the chill is important, that's the trigger. If we don't get adequate chilling, what happens is then you get this staggered bloom."

Chill hours are a real concern for walnuts and almonds, some fruit trees like apricots and even for wine grapes, which are grown in various parts of California.  Not only that, Lester said that he's concerned about what he calls "weather weirdness" he's been observing.  For example, he said last year there was a freak frost in early June, which is a good month-and-a-half later than the region has had frosts in many years. Many of his walnut buds were damaged and Lester had lower yields.

Weird weather

As Lester indicated, warmer winters aren’t the only concern climate change could bring to the region. Plant and environmental scientist Louise Jackson of the University of California Davis said models also predict higher levels of carbon dioxide in the air. The combined effect of all these possible changes is unclear.

"Mean temperature increases might be easier to cope with than with extreme events,” Jackson said. “Heat waves and heat waves at elevated carbon dioxide levels are kind of an unknown."

But climate scientists aren’t just focusing on temperatures.

"Another issue that we really have to face in California is drought, whether or not we're dealing with gradual drought or a combination of drought plus heat wave," Jackson said.  "So there are a lot of unknowns."

Most farmers in California irrigate their crops, but there is concern that warming and less snow would reduce the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  That would mean less melt to replenish reservoirs.

Fears bigger than the weather

Scientists are probing for more information. But the question is: Are farmers worried about these climate change predictions?

"All the predictions about what the future climate change is going to do to agriculture are just that –predictions, at this point," said farmer Bruce Rominger. "I'm one that believes we have affected the climate and it is getting warmer, but I'm not sure what the effects will be on my operation, so I'm not doing things right now in anticipation of this. I mean there's so much natural variation in weather here."

Romginer farms about 5,000 acres with his brother, Rick, in Yolo County near Davis. They don't like to put all of their eggs in one basket, so they grow processing tomatoes, rice, wheat, alfalfa, corn, sunflowers, safflower, wine grapes, seed onions and they're even starting to raise sheep. 

Like many farmers in California, Rominger already made changes to improve water efficiency. He has installed underground tubes with drip irrigation in many of his fields. That can greatly reduce both water use and fertilizer use, because it sends the water and nutrients right where they're needed.

Still, that was an economic decision.

“The reality is farmers follow the markets,” Rominger said. “We look at annual profit loss, that's what drives us."

Starting this year, businesses in California with high emissions can be charged for their contributions to greenhouse gases.  A new law, passed as AB 32, is similar to cap and trade legislation that failed at the national level. This kind of system taxes polluters who emit greenhouse gases and pays industries that suck up carbon dioxide, like forests. 

The law definitely affects dairies, where manure emits greenhouses gases, and many food processing plants, like tomato canning factories, will likely be taxed.

"They burn lot of natural gas to evaporate off a lot of water that comes in tomato, to make it into paste, or salsa, or ketchup, so they're going to have significant costs under AB 32 when comes into effect for ag processors," Rominger said.

If high operating costs drive out tomato plants to other states – or drive down the price plants can pay farmers – it won't be worth it for many California farmers to grow tomatoes.  It'll be cheaper for food companies to buy processing tomatoes from China and elsewhere. (It won’t necessarily affect eating tomatoes. Most farmers that grow tomatoes for eating are in Florida.) 

Right now, California farmers aren't so much worried about the warming weather, as they are the political winds of legislators and the regulations they pass.

A silver lining?

The new law could have some positives.  If farmers can show that adopting certain practices help reduce greenhouse gases, they could get paid for it. 

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Business Beat
2:55 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Business Beat: Risk of Pathogen Release from N-BAF Very Low

Walnut farmer Russ Lester is concerned about the effects climate change could bring to his California farm.
Kathleen Masterson Harvest Public Media

This week: Another update in the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, and climate changes doesn't ease troubles for farmers. 

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Business
9:07 am
Thu April 5, 2012

Building company moves to Montgomery City, projects 20 new jobs

Porta-King Building Systems, a manufacturing company, announced an expansion in Montgomery City.

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Business
3:00 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Governors Back Beef Trimmings

Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., left, introduces the beef product known as pink slime or lean finely textured beef, and the cuts from which it is made to.
AP

By Sandhya Dirks

The consumer uproar over “pink slime” has now got the beef industry roaring back.

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