The announcement on Tuesday that JBS S.A. intends to purchase National Beef Packing Co., as well as today’s announcement that JBS S.A. also hopes to purchase the beef unit of Smithfield Foods, has caused independent U.S. cattle producers to again rally Congress for competition reforms in the 2007 Farm Bill, says R-CALF USA.

JBS S.A. is based in Brazil, and if the purchase of National Beef and Smithfield is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, JBS S.A. will become the largest U.S. meatpacker, surpassing Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions.

“Time and time again, cattle producers have had to watch helplessly as the multinational meatpackers manipulate the cattle market for their own benefit, and additional concentration among the packers likely will reduce even more the number of cattle operations in the United States,” said R-CALF USA Region II Director/Vice President Randy Stevenson, who represents Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico members.

“R-CALF USA is again calling on Congress to immediately amend the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) to prohibit the anti-competitive practice of packer ownership of livestock by the largest meatpackers, and we are strongly encouraging the Department of Justice to block JBS’ efforts to further consolidate the U.S. meatpacking industry,” he continued.

“Congress must understand the importance of maintaining a profitable environment for independent livestock producers – not only to maintain a family farm structure across the U.S. that will preserve the food security of our country, but also to help restore Rural America,” Stevenson emphasized. “If we don’t support those who produce our food, then soon we will become a beef-importing country, with no control over the quality of those beef products.

“There are some countries that allow certain medicines and hormones to be used on their cattle that are outright banned here in the United States,” he pointed out. “It is imperative that the U.S. cattle herd maintain its distinct identity because of the high quality and safety of domestically produced cattle.”

In a news release, JBS USA CEO Wesley Batista welcomed National Beef as part of its “North American beef processing operations.”

“The last thing the U.S. cattle herd needs is to be lumped into a North American herd, what with Canada’s BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) problems and Mexico’s persistent problems with bovine tuberculosis,” Stevenson asserted.

Source: R-CALF USA news release