Cattle association seeks antitrust challenge to National Beef merger

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Cattle association seeks antitrust challenge to National Beef merger

R-CALF USA is asking U.S. Attorney General William Barr to block the proposed acquisition of Iowa Premium by National Beef Packing Co., a division of Marfrig Global Foods S.A. of Brazil.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) claims that the $150-million deal will “substantially reduce competition for fed cattle regionally as well as nationally.”

An R-CALF letter to Barr says the deal would harm independent U.S. cattle producers and will likely reduce competition for boxed beef, ultimately harming American consumers. The group also believes that the addition of Iowa Premium into the “beef packing cartel” that R-CALF says already controls 85 percent of the nation’s fed cattle market will accelerate an already “shrinking price discovering cash market.”

The letter also accuses Marfrig of attempting to “swallow up America’s critical food production facilities.” R-CALF added that the Brazilian beef company has been cited for antitrust violations in Brazil and played a role in food safety issues that prompted U.S. officials to stop the importing of Brazilian beef in 2017.