Ag Income Dropped by 36%

Montana’s farm and ranch business sector has experienced several “excellent financial years over the last eight years,” but that is not expected to continue, according to George B. Haynes, an economist with the Dept. of Economics and Agriculture Economics and Extension Economics at Montana State University.
Haynes was one of several presenters during the Montana Economic Outlook Seminar in Billings.

$900 Million Refinery Planned Startup in 2018

A California company says it can build a $900 million refinery on a 620-acre site in Belfield, ND and have it up and running in two years, processing 55,000 BOPD of Bakken crude oil.

“We are dead serious,” said Fred Bloom, vice president of Meridian Energy Group, Inc. located in Irvine, CA. “We are confident on our financing and have got all our ducks in a row.”

Questioned about the profitability of the refinery because of the new $425 million Dakota Prairie Refinery in Dickinson is losing money, Bloom described the proposed facility as a “contract manufacturer” with crude purchasing prices and selling prices of refined products established beforehand regardless of market conditions or prices.

Last Word on XL Could Cost Taxpayers

Accusing the United States of violating the Constitution and North American Free Trade Agreement by rejecting the Keystone Pipeline Corp., TransCanada Corp. has a good chance of winning its legal battle, experts say.
“…given Canada’s recent track record in suing the United States, I am afraid the American taxpayer will be left holding the bag for billions in penalties because of President Obama’s extreme environmental agenda,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

MDU Forecasts Future Capital Investment

MDU Resources Group, Inc. announced its capital expenditure forecast for 2016 through 2020. “With the imminent sale of our exploration and production business, MDU Resources will strategically shift to a lower-risk business model positioning us to grow our remaining businesses,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. “Our planned five-year capital expenditure forecast reflects substantial growth at our utility group building on record historical growth over the past five years. Our forecast for 2016 through 2020 includes line-of-sight opportunities at our business units with potential acquisitions being incremental to our capital program, a change in approach from the forecast provided for 2015 through 2019. As additional opportunities are identified outside of our capital plan, we will provide updates.”

Book Review... Don’t Expect Loyalty from Millennials

Today’s workers—the millennials—aren’t likely to be as loyal to their jobs as baby boomers were. According to a Future Workplace study, an overwhelming 91% of them expect to stay in a job for three years or less. This turnover rate is costing companies huge amounts of money and creating avoidable disruption.
“Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win” by co-authors Guy Parsons and Allan Milham, provides insight and ways of engaging younger workers by earning their loyalty. In short, they show that one way of satisfying this next generation of leaders is by treating them as such.

Cost of Turkey Dinner Increases Slightly

The American Farm Bureau’s classic turkey dinner survey shows the average cost of feeding 10 people is $50.11, increasing less than 2 percent from 2014. That comes to a 70-cent increase from 2014. Increases in the average price for turkey, pumpkin pie mix, brown-n-serve rolls, cubed bread stuffing and pie shells are the main drivers behind the increase.

American Airlines to Serve Bozeman

With the announcement, on Jan. 14, that American Airlines has agreed to provide seasonal flights between Bozeman and Dallas/Fort Worth, The Billings Chamber of Commerce, along with Visit Billings, Big Sky Economic Development and other community partners, said that they are continuing to advocate for air service growth in Billings.  

Kiplinger: Montana Not so Friendly for Retirees

Kiplinger’s has released its annual ranking of the most and least tax-friendly states for retirees. Montana had the dubious honor of being one of the ten least friendly, ranking sixth over the worst which was Vermont. The most tax-friendly state for retirees is Alaska, followed by Wyoming, and then Nevada. South Dakota ranks 9th friendliest.
Of the western states, Oregon ranked fifth as least friendliest and California, seventh.
The list was unveiled as part of Kiplinger’s Retiree Tax Map—available at links/ retireetaxmap—which offers an easy-to-use visual guide that compares taxes on income (including Social Security benefits, pensions and other forms of retirement income), property, everyday purchases, and, ultimately, your estate. The guide also reveals special senior tax breaks across all 50 states.

Market Update

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