R-CALF Asks DOJ To Block National Beef Merger

R-CALF USA has asked the Justice Department to block the proposed merger of Iowa Premium and National Beef. ( Iowa Premium/National Beef )

R-CALF USA says it has asked 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.

In its formal request, R-CALF USA said that “National Beef’s acquisition of Iowa Premium will substantially reduce competition for fed cattle regionally as well as nationally, thus harming independent U.S. cattle producers and will also likely substantially reduce competition for boxed beef, which will harm American consumers.”

The group says that adding Iowa Premium, which harvests 1,100 head per day, to National Beef, which harvests 12,000 head per day, adds to what it calls a “beef packing cartel” that R-CALF says already controls 85% of the fed cattle market, a move that would accelerate an already “shrinking price discovering cash market; will accelerate the decline of smaller to mid-sized beef packing plants; and will allow the Brazilian beef packing cartel to weaken the U.S. cattle industry.”

R-CALF also accuses Marfrig of attempting to “swallow up America’s critical food production facilities.” The group also noted 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.

The letter also claims National Beef has “joined in a cartel with Tyson and Cargill to limit access to the marketplace unless producers become certified under the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program.”

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