Cattlemen will appeal a judge’s decision in a big lawsuit against Tyson Fresh Meats. The handful of producers and an Omaha law firm spent years preparing their case and it became a class-action lawsuit against the meatpackers formerly known as IBP. Even before Tyson bought the company, they claimed, it had been encouraging farmers to sign contracts selling their cattle to the packer in advance. The company said those packer contracts added security to the livestock farmers’ industry but some farmers said it blunted the effect of free markets and they think they’d have gotten higher prices at a public auction, the way meatpackers used to buy all their animals. In February a jury in Montgomery, Alabama, agreed and awarded the farmers one-point-28-billion dollars. But the judge held off on finalizing that judgment and on Friday granted a ruling that sets aside that jury verdict. The judge says farmers didn’t prove they lost that much to packer control of the livestock.
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