The proposed Smithfield Foods buyout of Farmland Industries is being studied by members of the U.S. Attorney General’s staff for potential antitrust conflicts. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff is scheduled to meet with Attorney General John Ashcroft’s representatives on the issue tomorrow. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin wasn’t invited to the meeting, but supports the inquiry. Harkin says he wants the Justice Department to use all its wherewithal to see if there are indeed concerns about Smithfield becoming a monopoly in the industry. Smithfield is offering financially-troubled Farmland Foods $363 million for its pork plants by Smithfield Foods. Smithfield is the world’s biggest pork producer and processor. Farmland has facilities in Denison and Carroll. Smithfield has a plant in Sioux City. Many farmers oppose the move, fearing it would give Smithfield too much power over the pork industry.
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