New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has joined Attorneys General from 16 states and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division seeking to block the acquisition of National Beef Packing (NBP) by JBS, the world's largest beef packer.
NBP, the fourth largest beef packer in the US, and JBS currently compete in the purchase of fed cattle and sale of USDA-graded beef products to grocers, food service companies and U.S. consumers, accorind to a press release from the N.M. Attoney General's office.
King contends that if JBS is allowed to purchase NBS, potentially this could mean higher priced beef for consumers, a lower price-per-head for New Mexico ranchers and a limited market for meat packing. Without maintaining competition in the marketplace, JBS would have an unfair advantage.
The DOJ complaint filed against Brazilian-based JBS on October 20, 2008 describes the acquisition as completing a "fundamental restructuring of the United States beef packing industry." The proposed consolidation is JBS' third attempted take over the market since 2007.
If this consolidation took place, JBS would have 35% of the market for the purchase of fed cattle packing capacity in the High Plains region of the U.S. The acquisition of the United States fifth largest meat packer, Smithfield Beef Group, is also proposed by JBS which would create a three-firm oligopoly controlling 75 percent of the market share in the Southwest.
Other states joining New Mexico in the antitrust lawsuit include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.