The Department of Justice last week approved a proposal by Smithfield Packing, the world's largest hog processor, to buy its closest competitor, Premium Standard Farms. (See "Big pig," April 4.)
The department's anti-trust division concluded that the "merged firm is not likely to harm competition, consumers or farmers" because it would still face competition from other companies, including Tyson.
Some N.C. farmers are concerned the merger will limit their market options, and force them to renegotiate less favorable contract terms with Smithfield. However, federal officials contend farmers can sell to Smithfield's competitors.