Heat leaves ranchers a harsh option: sell
Written byJACK HEALY, New York Times
As a relentless drought bakes prairie soil to dust and dries up streams across the country, ranchers struggling to feed their cattle are unloading them by the thousands, a wrenching decision likely to ripple from the Plains to supermarket shelves over the next year.
Ranchers say they are reducing their herds and selling their cattle months ahead of schedule to avoid the mounting losses of a drought that now stretches across a record-breaking 1,016 American counties. Irrigation ponds are shriveling to scummy puddles. Their pastures are brown and barren. And they say the prices of hay and other feed are soaring beyond their reach.
So, in the latest pangs of a withering heat wave that has threatened crops and sparked furious wildfires, ranchers are loading up their cattle and driving to towns like Torrington, an old byway on the Oregon Trail near the Nebraska border. They come, reluctantly, to sell.VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE