May 26, 2020

Consumer Groups, Cattlemen Urge Review of JBS-XL Foods Merger

Thirty-seven U.S. farm and consumer groups, along with five statewide cattle groups and R-CALF USA have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking them to review the JBS and XL Four Star Beef merger. XL Four Star Beef is a subsidiary of XL Foods, the huge Canadian facility that was at the center of a massive beef recall last month. That beef was linked to an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in Canada.

CattleLast month Food Poisoning Bulletin told you about this issue. At that time, R-CALF stated that they opposed the merger on the grounds that “any such merger or acquisition would result in the reduction, if not elimination, of competition in the U.S. cattle market.” In its acquisition proposal, JBS reportedly has an option to purchase two meatpacking plants from XL Four Star Beef in Idaho and Nebraska.

In 2008, the Justice Department blocked a merger between JBS and National Beef Packing Company.  JBS has taken over XL Foods in the U.S. and Canada, with an option to purchase. If the merger goes through, JBS would become the largest beef producer in North America.

The letter states, “we firmly believe this proposed merger would reduce competition and seriously harm both cattle producers and consumers. We therefore request that no early termination of the antitrust evaluation regarding the acquisition of the two U.S.-based beef packing plants be grated and that the Justice Department make a second request for information to extend the investigation.”

Consumer groups that signed the letter include The Cornucopia Institute, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Government Accountability Project, and Slow Food USA. National Family Farm Coalition.  The cattle groups include Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska and Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming.

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