Tyson's Bid for Hillshire Brings Anti-Trust Concern

Tyson's Bid for Hillshire Brings Anti-Trust Concern

National Farmers Union says merger only benefits corporate owners

Farmers don't stand to benefit from Tyson's buyout of Hillshire, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said this week.

Johnson, on behalf of NFU, said the buyout – which was proposed by Tyson last week, though not yet approved by Hillshire – would leave farmers with fewer choices for marketing their products. The Department of Justice should consider enforcing anti-trust laws to halt the potential acquisition, he suggested.

Related: Tyson's Offer for Hillshire Prevails; Pilgrim's Withdraws

National Farmers Union says proposed Tyson-Hillshire merger only benefits corporate owners

"Tyson Food's likely purchase of Hillshire benefits corporate owners at the expense of farmers and consumers," Johnson said in a statement. "Our country is worse off because of the increasingly consolidated food and agriculture marketplace. Farmers and ranchers will have fewer buyers and Tyson will be better able to dictate lower prices paid to producers."

Johnson also cited concerns that a possible merger would ensure closures of meatpacking a processing facilities, especially in areas where both Tyson and Hillshire are currently operating.

"We're already well on our way to having one giant food company and this purchase would send us farther down that path," he said.

Related: Tyson Joins Potential Bidding War for Hillshire

The acquisition talks are timely, Johnson pointed out, as last week marked 100 years since the enactment of the Clayton Act, which was designed to prohibit anti-competitive mergers and ensure a fair marketplace, he said.

According to Tyson's FY13 report, the company represents the largest share of the U.S. beef daily slaughter capacity. For pork, Smithfield produces the most in the U.S. at 26%, followed by Tyson at 17%. Tyson's share of U.S. chicken production is at 21%, just above Pilgrim's Pride, which is owned by JBS SA.

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