EDMONTON, Alberta – Alberta’s provincial government approved an exemption that will allow JBS Canada to buy XL Foods’ Brooks, Alta., operations, according to The Canadian Press.

The province’s Foreign Ownership of Lands Regulation limits foreign ownership of land to no more than two parcels of rural land of no more than 8 hectares each, according to the report. But exemptions can be granted if the province receives an economic benefit.

In October, JBS USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brazil-based JBS SA, reached an agreement with XL Foods to manage XL Lakeside, the plant at the center of the largest beef recall in Canadian history. XL Lakeside is one of the largest employers in southern Alberta and one of Canada's largest beef processors with the capacity to process 4,000 head of cattle per day.

The agreement also gave JBS USA an exclusive option to acquire Canadian and US operations owned by XL Foods, including a beef packing plant in Calgary, Alta.; a feedlot in Brooks and the adjacent farmland acreage; a beef packing plant in Omaha, Neb.; plus a beef packing plant in Nampa, Idaho.

But while the acquisition of XL Foods' Canadian operations has gone smoothly, the company's plans for US operations have met with opposition. The National Farmers Union (NFU) and a coalition of 40 agricultural organizations recently asked the US Department of Justice to investigate a proposed merger of JBS USA and the two US-based beef packing plants run by XL Four Star Beef, a division of XL Foods.