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Recession Hurts Ranchers Who’ve Seen Price of Stock Plummet

The recession is squeezing cattlemen on all sides, with the costs of supplies rising and beef prices down. Tom Bearden reports from the National Western Stock Show on how the plummeting economy is hurting ranchers.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And next, NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports from Denver on what the recession is doing to cattlemen out west.

    TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour correspondent: There aren't many cities where office workers can descend from their glass towers and watch a parade of longhorn cattle during the lunch hour.

    This was the kickoff of the National Western Stock Show in downtown Denver. Billed as the world's premier livestock show, it's a more than just a parade.

    For more than 100 years, thousands of livestock producers from all over the country have hauled cattle to the old railroad stockyards for two weeks of auctions, exhibitions, competitions, and old-fashioned sales pitches.

  • CAR SHOW MARKETER:

    See how fast that works? If you blinked, you missed it. It picked up that whole bowl full of water and see how it locks it in?

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    But for all of the bells and whistles, the stock show is about the business of buying and selling livestock, the economic heart of the rural Midwest.

    This year, it's also about what the recession is doing to cattlemen. Dave Klompein and Leo McDonnell raise angus cattle in Montana. Klompein says ranchers are caught in a classic squeeze. Costs for things like fertilizer and feed are up; prices for their beef are down.

    DAVE KLOMPEIN, Montana cattle rancher: Cattle prices last year were probably $1.20. This year, they're down in the, what, Leo, probably 80, 90 cents, so, you know, it's down a lot.

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