Jay Nixon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline)-Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is drawing praise for his opposition to a Brazilian company's planned acquisition of some of the largest meat-packing companies in the United States.

Dennis Thornsberry of Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund USA said his group is pleased that Nixon is opposed to plans by JBS S.A. to acquire meatpackers National Beef and Smithfield Beef, and feedlot operation Five Rivers Cattle Feeding LLC of Loveland, Colo.

"Missouri ranks second only to Texas in cows and calves, so that's a pretty big deal that he chose to get involved," Thornsberry said.

"Someone had to light the lantern, and he did. R-CALF hopes that several attorneys general will officially join together and effectively challenge this proposal," he added.

In a letter last week, Nixon urged U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to look closely at the deal.

Missouri, he noted, is one of the nation's largest beef-producing states.

Nixon told Mukasey that the acquisition would mean a reduction in competition among U.S. meatpackers that would harm beef producers in the Show Me State.

By owning the cattle it slaughters, JBS would pay less for live cattle from Missouri beef producers and then be able to charge more for the beef, Nixon argued.

"We have observed this phenomenon in the pork industry, as consolidation has driven farm and retail prices in opposite directions," Nixon wrote. "Allowing vertical integration in the beef industry almost certainly will produce the same unsettling result."

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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