Tyson Foods reportedly won a bidding war to acquire Hillshire Brands on Monday, paying $7.7 billion for the Chicago-based maker of Jimmy Dean sausage and other meat products.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said the potential merger sets the stage for more control by a small group of companies over U.S. farm products.
“Our country is worse off because of the increasingly consolidated food and agriculture marketplace," Johnson said.
Johnson said farmers and ranchers will have fewer buyers and Tyson will be better able to dictate lower prices to producers because of the merger.
“Closures of meatpacking and processing facilities, especially in areas where both Tyson and Hillshire are currently operating, will be all but assured,” he said.
“We’re already well on our way to having one giant food company and this purchase would send us farther down that path,” Johnson said.
Johnson said it’s striking that last week marked 100 years since the enactment of the Clayton Act, which was designed to prohibit anti-competitive mergers and ensure a fair marketplace.
“On behalf of family farmers and ranchers, I urge the U.S. Department of Justice enforce existing anti-trust laws and halt this planned acquisition,” he said. “NFU will continue to fight against this and other mergers that will stack the deck further in favor of the powerful, multi-national food companies.”
National Farmers Union was formed in 1902 to advocate for the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities.