Thursday, March 28, 2002

Sioux City Stockyards closing

By David Pitt
The Associated Press

        SIOUX CITY, Iowa — For more than a century, farmers and ranchers across the West and the Midwest sent their steers and hogs to Sioux City's vast maze of wooden pens and auction lots.

        The Sioux City Stockyards are closing after today, a victim of advances in shipping and a changed farm economy.

        In the early days, livestock was sold at markets near the farms that raised the animals, and was slaughtered at meatpacking plants nearby. Railroads then carried the meat to cities in the East.

        But the stockyards of Omaha, Neb., closed in 1999. Chicago's Union Stockyards closed in 1971. And the South St. Paul., Minn., stockyards that once spanned 300 acres are down to just one livestock company on 25 acres.

        At its peak in 1924, the Sioux City stockyards handled 3.7 million hogs — 50 percent more than Iowa's population that year.

        Bruce Compton, 77, began working at the stockyards in 1942.

        “It was a vibrant business then,” he said. “The day I started they had 33,000 cattle, 40,000 hogs and 25,000 sheep.” One recent day, only 120 head of cattle were offered for sale.


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