Drought idles business

The Prairie. Art by Chris Brockman.

Abigail Grace Miller

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For some panhandle folks, the drought that has plagued West Texas for the last two years has affected their rights to water their yards. For others, it has affected them more drastically.

Cargill Meats Solutions idled its plant in Plainview, Texas, on Feb. 1.

“2,098 workers were laid off,” Michael Martin, a Cargill spokesman, said. “Of the Cargill employees, about 400 expressed an interest in relocating.”

Being the third-worst in Texas since 1895, the drought has dried up pastures as well as increased the costs of hay and feed. This has forced some ranchers to sell off their herds to reduce expenses.

“The company idled the plant primarily because of the drought and the tight cattle supply,” Martin said. “The day the plant closed, federal officials released new data showing the number of cattle in Texas at its lowest point since 1967.”

With the closure of the plant, it seems that there are only negative aspects. However, the community is trying to keep a positive attitude. The drought is not only affecting the ranchers but also the farmers within the community.

“Agriculture is the center of the economy for our community,” Tanner Lane, a senior Agricultural Business and Economics major, said. “Despite the negative drawbacks, the closure has allowed us to pump more water on our section that is behind the plant.”

With the steady incline in the community’s sales tax revenue, city officials said that the community’s economy has been able to hold its own. However, it can be expected that the community will see changes.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the full effect of the closure yet,” said Marissa Mires, senior Environmental Science major, said. “However, I predict it will be detrimental when the full effect does hit. Many of the residents of our community have had several members of their family working for the Cargill industry.”

For residents of Plainview, the closure means more than the shutdown of a business. It changes the atmosphere of the entire community.

“The closure came as a huge shock to me, as it was to the town of Plainview and even the workers of Cargill itself,” Mires, a Plainview native, said. “It’s odd now to drive past the building without the smell of the pens full of cattle. It was just one of those things I always took for granted being there and now that it’s gone, I realize how much it meant to Plainview and the surrounding communities.”

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Drought idles business