PASCO, WASH. – Tyson Fresh Meats, the beef and pork processing subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc., filed a lawsuit against cattle company Easterday Ranches last week, seeking more than $200 million in reimbursement.

According to a Tyson statement, the company found that Pasco, Wash.- based Easterday Ranches claimed to have fed cattle that did not exist.

“In an effort to ensure the orderly recovery of assets in the aftermath of a fraudulent scheme by Easterday Ranches, Tyson Fresh Meats is asking for a court-appointed receiver to take control of Easterday Ranches,” said Gary Mickelson, a spokesman with Tyson Foods.

“During a recent company-led investigation, we learned Easterday falsified documents to obtain reimbursement by Tyson of more than $200 million in connection with some 200,000 cattle that did not exist,” Mickelson continued. “The president of Easterday Ranches admitted to the scheme and acknowledged the fraud was initiated to cover extensive commodities trading losses he had experienced.” 

A few days before the lawsuit, Easterday Ranches sold one of its lots for $16 million to Boise, Idaho-based AB Livestock LLC. The feedyard can hold 25,000 head of cattle. The sale was announced on Jan. 29.

“This acquisition provides AB Livestock the opportunity to increase its business with local northwest suppliers, while reducing reliance on cattle supplies from Canada,” said Matt Buyers, president of AB Livestock. “It also dramatically reduces our overall carbon footprint as it brings an additional source of fed-cattle supply much nearer to our Washington processing facility.”

Tyson also provided comments on the sale between AB Livestock and Easterday Ranches.

“We were not aware the sale was completed when we filed our requests with the court, however, the news does not change our position on the need for a court-appointed receiver to take control of the remaining assets of Easterday Ranches,” Tyson said in its statement.

In an SEC filing in December 2020, Tyson Fresh Meats announced that it was undergoing an internal review of its beef segment which reported a $285 million loss last year.

“Based on the preliminary findings from the internal review, the Company’s management believes that the resulting loss to the Company is isolated to the Beef segment and is attributable to this one cattle supplier,” the filing said. “This cattle supplier represents approximately 2% of the total cattle supplied to our Beef segment each year for fiscal 2017 through 2020.”