Bullock: Merger Call-off ‘a Big Win’ for Montana Ranchers
AG says there is still a lot of work to do to make the marketplace fair for Montana producers
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock praised Friday’s announcement that JBS Beef, S.A. has ended its efforts to acquire National Beef Packing Company. The move would have concentrated 80 percent of U.S. packing operations in just three companies and resulted in lower prices paid to cattle producers and higher prices for consumers buying beef.
The Montana Attorney General, along with 16 other states and the U.S. Department of Justice, led the legal efforts to oppose the merger by suing in federal district court in October to block the deal.
“Today’s decision is a big win for family farmers and ranchers in Montana, and it will help protect consumers when they buy beef,” Bullock said. “It’s great news that this deal was withdrawn. But given the high level of concentration that still exists, the marketplace still is not fair for Montana’s number one industry, production agriculture.”
The proposed merger would have given Brazil-based JBS—the world’s largest beef processor—a third of the U.S.-fed cattle processing market and made it the largest beef processor in the United States, concentrating over 80 percent of U.S.-fed cattle processing capacity in just three companies.
At the same time, the concentration in the market would have enabled JBS, Tyson and Cargill to raise the prices they charge customers for processed beef.
“Even though this merger isn’t moving forward, four companies still control 80 percent of the market. Stopping this was important, but we still have a lot more to do to protect Montana producers and consumers from the effects of market concentration,” Bullock added.
Montana and the U.S. Department of Justice were joined by Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming in the legal action to block the planned merger.