Modern-Day Rustlers Wrangle Millions of Dollars From Texas Ranchers

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According to the Independent Bankers Association of Texas, along with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, following these changes in the market and the subsequent financial crunch felt by the ranchers, some independent banks were hesitant to give cattle loans. Others have increased their collateral requirements. Bradshaw has stated that cycles in increased drug use, as well as the economy (with factors like the West Texas oil field boom) can impact the movements of small-time cattle rustlers.

To bring about change, a decade ago the Texas Legislature made the theft of fewer than 10 cattle head, or like livestock, a third-degree felony. This carries a sentence of up to 10 years’ worth of prison time. In the meantime, it adds up to an ongoing tradition of the rancher facing difficulties that continue to mount, continue to change with the times, and continue to be considered crimes well-worth actively pursuing. With slim profit margins, the thousands of Texas ranchers that will produce 27 billion pounds of beef in 2019 is “squeaking by” according to Bradshaw, who cited that the average Texas rancher’s herd consists of 34 head. With the potential for any particular influence to adversely affect their operations—be it weather, prices, or cattle rustlers—it’s an industry you can still lose your shirt in easily.

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