October 6,  2020

 

Antitrust case against Cargill, JBS and Tyson dismissed


 

An antitrust litigation -- that accused JBS USA, Cargill Inc., National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson Foods Inc. of conspiring to fix and suppress the price of fed cattle -- has been dimissed by the US District Court for the District of Minnesota.


The case consolidated several separately filed class action cases with two sets of plaintiffs: institutional/organisational plaintiffs Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America and Farmers Educational & Cooperative Union of America, and a group of individual and business plaintiffs who sold fed cattle directly to one or more of the defendants.


JBS USA, Cargill Inc., National Beef Packing Co. and Tyson Foods Inc. were accused of anticompetitive behavior related to lower slaughter volume in 2015 and the "queuing convention" purported by an unknown witness who described a "complicated system" for determining the price of cash sales akin to right-of-first-refusal agreements.


However, the court determined that the plaintiffs had "not pleaded parallel conduct sufficient to support an inference of a price-fixing conspiracy," according to chief judge John R. Tunheim.


Tunheim found that "merely cutting back slaughter volume in a single year cannot, itself, serve as the anticompetitive basis for a claim" and that the "queuing convention" allegations were insufficient to independently support a Packers & Stockyards Act claim.


"For many years, we have served as a trusted partner to American cattle ranchers, committed to supporting their family farms and livelihoods. We are confident in our efforts to maintain market integrity and conduct ethical business," said a Cargill spokesperson following the court's decision.


- BEEF Magazine

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