Legislator airs concerns about Tyson-Hillshire deal
by Meat&Poultry Staff
WASHINGTON – The acquisition of The Hillshire Brands Company by Tyson Foods Inc. is a big deal, but Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley doesn't believe it's a good deal for consumers or market competitiveness. Grassley is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over anti-trust policy.
Sen. Chuck Grassley
Grassley is urging the Justice Department to "heavily scrutinize" Tyson's buyout of Hillshire Brands. He expressed concern that the acquisition could negatively impact competition in the US pork industry, prices for pork and consumer choice.
“Independent, small producers have been to my office to express their own concern,” Grassley said in a statement. “In particular, they fear that Tyson could engage in the practice of ‘tie-in’ sales of sows with market hogs, which would put independent producers at a tremendous disadvantage as they look for markets for their sows.”
In a statement, Tyson told MeatPoultry.com "We’re cooperating with the Department of Justice and are willing to meet with Senator Grassley to address his questions."
In a letter to the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, Grassley urged the DOJ to "heavily scrutinize" the Tyson-Hillshire deal.
“I urge the Antitrust Division to thoroughly examine this acquisition to protect competition in the pork industry,” Grassley wrote. “In particular, I urge the Antitrust Division to scrutinize the implications of this transaction on the sow market. The proposed Tyson Foods-Hillshire Brands Company combination could reduce the already limited number of buyers for the commodities of small, independent pork producers. Many independent producers and family farmers are concerned about increased vertical integration, expanded packer ownership, exclusive contracting and captive supply. I share these concerns about anti-competitive business practices, reduced market opportunities and limited choice and higher prices for consumers.”