Agriculture estimated to keep regional economy strong

Agriculture estimated to keep regional economy strong

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Happy State Bank is estimating a good start to the year for agriculture in the Texas Panhandle, especially in cotton production.

“We are still predominantly an agricultural region and we’ve really just come off of a really great cotton crop,” said Chairman and CEO of Happy State Bank J. Pat Hickman. “Especially in the Northern Panhandle. South down to Lubbock, maybe not quite as good of a crop but the quality was good and the prices are even holding well.”

Hickman said the amount of moisture in the Northern Panhandle last year was just what the crop needed to make the region a lead producer.

“The southern part got a whole lot more moisture than we did and that’s not good for a cotton crop,” he said. “The moisture that we received up here in the Northern plains was just the right amount and just the right time. So Mother Nature and the good Lord helped us out by really giving us the right conditions for a good crop. And then the quality of the cotton this year, it was extremely, extremely good quality which ups the prices.”

Happy State Bank is estimating a good start to the year for agriculture in the Texas Panhandle, especially in cotton production. (Source: KFDA)
Happy State Bank is estimating a good start to the year for agriculture in the Texas Panhandle, especially in cotton production. (Source: KFDA) (Source: KFDA)

Other positives in agriculture include an increase in grain prices.

The bank highlights low unemployment rate and tax cuts by the federal government as contributors to a strong economy as well.

“We raised the minimum wages in our bank last year after the Trump tax cuts, a lot of businesses did that,” said Hickman. “And right now unemployment is so good we’re to a point if you’re not working in the Texas Panhandle today, it’s really because you don’t want to work because there are so many jobs out there, but we’ve done a great job of filling them and that benefits everybody.”

In Amarillo, vacancies in commercial property are cited as an economic weakness, but not enough to hurt the economy going forward.

“It’s going to take a while for businesses to come in and move into those so that may be a slower piece, but everything else is doing so well it’s not going to hurt the economy overall,” said Hickman. “We’ve got an over-abundance right now, an over-supply of commercial properties here and there, but outside of that, it’s a great time to be living in the Texas Panhandle and Amarillo, Texas.”

Copyright 2019 KFDA. All rights reserved.