A U.S. District Court judge has set a trial date for the antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) against George’s Inc. Judge Glen E. Conrad has set August 22 for the trial. DOJ filed the civil lawsuit on May 10 alleging that George’s acquisition of the Tyson Foods plant in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which left just two chicken processors in the area, would reduce growers’ ability to receive competitive prices for their services.  George’s filed court documents last week requesting that the lawsuit be expedited as it would delay the company’s plans to invest in the complex and would harm contract growers and employees associated with the complex.

Meanwhile, Virginia officials, including Governor Bob McDonnell (R), Senators Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D) and Representative Robert Goodlatte (R) expressed their concerns this week in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder saying that hundreds of jobs and grower contracts with farmers in the Shenandoah Valley could be lost if DOJ’s suit blocks George’s acquisition of the Tyson Foods complex.

The Virginia officials said that George’s not only decided “to retain the former Tyson’s employees, but also to extend its growers’ contracts through 2018,” and, if George’s was forced to withdraw, the company would not have the opportunity to carry out the increased expansion it has promised. All four officials maintained that the purchase of the Tyson plant on March 18 rescued it from likely closure by Tyson’s.  Governor McDonnell, Virginia’s former attorney general, asked Holder “to withdraw this suit immediately and to let George’s get about the business of maintaining the jobs of hundreds of hardworking Virginians.”

 

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