R-CALF seeks DOJ investigation into JBS SA

by Erica Shaffer
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BILLINGS, Mont. – The hits just keep coming for the world’s largest meat packer. On June 7, R-CALF USA sent an 11-page request to President Donald Trump and other officials requesting a Dept. of Justice investigation into cattle procurement practices used by São Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA.

In court documents released by the Brazilian Supreme Court, former JBS Chairman Joesley Batista admitted making illegal payments to Brazil’s current and former presidents, and other government officials. And it’s likely that JBS used the same tactics to build its business in the United States, R-CALF contends in a letter to President Trump, Sen. Charles Grassley, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“It is now crystal clear that JBS’s business model relied heavily on unlawful and other corrupt practices to influence government actions and policies as well as to influence decisions by government-regulated entities, e.g., banks,” the letter stated. “It is, therefore, at least as likely as not that JBS has deployed that same corrupt business model in the United States. A full and complete investigation is needed to determine the full scope of JBS’s potentially unlawful activities in the United States and the impact that any such unlawful activities have had on the nation’s single largest segment of American agriculture – the US live cattle industry, which is comprised of hundreds of thousands of family-owned cattle farms and ranches and vitally important to the economic well-being of Rural America.”

The letter goes into detail of how JBS built its US meat packing business — starting with the 2007 acquisition of Swift & Co. — with the help of the US government. It was also around the time of the Swift acquisition, R-CALF claims, that JBS was found to be a “bad actor on US soil” when the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) acted against JBS for anticompetitive conduct.

“In December 2009, JBS consented to paying a penalty of $6,200 and to cease from inaccurately weighing carcasses,” R-CALF said in its letter. “On Dec. 22, 2010, JBS consented to paying a penalty of $175,000 in response to GIPSA’s complaint that it had unlawfully reduced the price of hogs paid to hog farmers by an estimated $350,000...”

R-CALF concluded its request for an investigation by alleging that JBS “colonized” the US animal protein industries and created a “monopolistic” business model.

“The United States should leave no stone unturned and should vigorously enforce each and every US antitrust law and fair practices laws such as the Packers and Stockyards Act,” the letter stated.

“If it is found that JBS has, indeed, built its monopolistic US livestock and meat empire through unlawful means, then every US-based asset owned by JBS should be immediately divested.”

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