Senator Charles Grassley says he’s concerned about a proposed merger in the meatpacking industry, but Grassley doesn’t expect the U.S. Justice Department to step in and stop it. "There’s going to be less and less and less competition with this merger," Grassley says. "It almost means that there’s only three packers in the United States to process livestock."
J.B.S. Swift, a Brazilian company, announced in March that it plans to acquire Smithfield and National Beef. If the deal’s approved, J.B.S. Swift would become the largest meatpacker in the United States — and in the world.
"You couple that with packer ownership of livestock…it makes it very difficult for farmers to have access to market," Grassley says. "It makes it very difficult for the independent producer to know what a fair price is and so I’m very concerned about this merger." Grassley sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and that panel will hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon to examine the merger.
"There doesn’t seem to be any indication that the Justice Department is going to disapprove the merger which makes me unhappy…I guess all I can do is raise the questions," Grassley says. J.B.S. — the Brazilian company — bought Swift in 2007. Its proposed $1.5 billion acquisition of the two other companies would combine the nation’s third, fourth and fifth largest beef packers with the nation’s largest cattle feeder.