Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shenandoah Valley delegates release letter to DOJ regarding anti-trust lawsuit

Shenandoah Valley Delegation Releases
Letter to DOJ Regarding Anti-Trust Lawsuit

Letter addresses George's, Inc. acquisition of
Tyson's Food Poultry Processing Plant
HARRISONBURG--Today, Shenandoah Valley legislators sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice regarding its filing of an antitrust suit seeking reversal of the sale of a local poultry processing plant in Harrisonburg, VA to George's, Inc. Tyson's Food, Inc., announced the sale of the poultry processing plant for $3 million earlier this month. 

The text of the delegation's letter follows. A PDF copy is available here.

May 18, 2011

The Hon. Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

As legislators representing the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, we write to express our concerns and to request reconsideration of the decision of the Department of Justice to file an antitrust suit seeking to reverse the sale of the Tyson's Food, Inc., poultry processing plant in Harrisonburg, Virginia to George's, Inc. Intentions notwithstanding, we believe that reversing this sale would be to the detriment of growers, plant employees, and consumers alike.

We are well aware of the challenges facing the poultry industry in this region, and understand the concerns of some growers about the loss of the Tyson's processing plant. Although we would prefer more processors, it is our belief that in this instance, the sale actually represents the best available chance to avoid negative outcomes for growers, laborers and consumers. We believe that the Department's suit to reverse the sale of Tyson's Shenandoah Valley processing plant to George's, Inc., is mistaken and not in the best interest of local stakeholders - growers included.

As a condition of the sale, George's has agreed to honor all 121 grower contracts entered into by Tyson's, and plans to retain the vast majority of the plant's existing employees. They also intend to restore the plant to full processing capacity, creating additional employment opportunities in the Shenandoah Valley. Should the sale be reversed, we are concerned that the plant could shut down, displacing five hundred employees and terminating their contracts with area growers. Although there are undoubtedly some growers who support the actions of the Department, we believe that the overwhelming majority take a different view.

The Shenandoah Valley actually boasts a large number of poultry processors. Even without Tyson's, the region would still claim George's, Cargill, Purdue, Pilgrim's Pride, Ag Forte, and the Poultry Grower's Cooperative, with George's and Pilgrim's Pride processing chickens and the others processing turkeys. It is our understanding that in many other regions, growers are limited to a single processor.
We would prefer that our region not lose a processor, but imperiling the jobs of 500 plant employees and all those employed by the 121 growers under contract to Tyson's would be far worse, an outcome that is unacceptable to our community. It is our firm belief that George's acquisition of the Tyson's plant is compliant with antitrust law, and that the DOJ's lawsuit is likely to hurt the local economy and make the poultry industry less, not more, competitive.

Accordingly, we write to request that the Department of Justice review the decision to file suit in this case, and hope that full consideration will be given to withdrawing this lawsuit.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

With best regards,

Sen. Mark Obenshain
Sen. Emmett Hanger
Del. Steve Landes
Del. Tony Wilt
Del. Richard (Dickie) Bell
Del. Rob Bell
Del. Ben Cline


The delegation's letter:
Mark's website:
Mark's Facebook profile:

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