"Drought Takes Its Toll on a Texas Business, a Town and Its Families"

"PLAINVIEW, Tex. — After two years of drought, people are starting to leave this parched West Texas town."

"The lack of significant rainfall has slowed the rush of cattle that came to the largest employer here, a beef processing plant that employed 2,300 people in a town of 22,343. When the plant shut this month, it took with it an annual payroll of $15.5 million.

The closing has challenged families who had worked at the plant off Interstate 27 for generations. Sons and daughters stood alongside their fathers and mothers, husbands next to wives. Many are Mexican-Americans whose families have long called Texas home. They spent decades rising into the middle class on an average hourly pay of $14.27 and becoming highly skilled at the grisly process of turning slaughtered cattle into beef products, though many lacked high school diplomas. Their Spanish had a Texas twang, and they formed the blue-collar heart of a windswept town almost 50 miles from Lubbock."

Manny Fernandez reports for the New York Times February 27, 2013.

Source: NY Times, 02/28/2013