George’s Inc. and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this week that a settlement has been reached in DOJ’s civil antitrust suit relating to George’s acquisition of the Tyson Foods’ former processing plant located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The settlement requires George’s make capital improvements to the complex, which includes a processing plant, feed mill, and hatchery.

The DOJ antitrust division filed the proposed settlement in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.  If approved by the court, the settlement would resolve the lawsuit filed by DOJ on May 10.  The lawsuit had been scheduled to go to trial August 22.

George’s acquired the complex from Tyson Foods in March in a transaction that was not required to be reported under antitrust laws because the purchase price was less than the minimum reporting threshold.  Nevertheless, DOJ sued on the basis that the acquisition reduced the number of processors in the region from three-George’s, Tyson Foods, and Pilgrims Pride–to two and would reduce competition for chickens in the region.

DOJ said in its statement announcing the settlement that “the required capital improvements will allow the company to produce a variety of highly valued products at both its Harrisonburg and Edinburg facilities in the Shenandoah Valley.  As a result of these improvements, George’s will have the incentive and ability to increase local poultry production, thereby increasing the demand for grower services and averting the likely adverse competitive effects arising from the the acquisition.”

“I welcome the news that USDOJ has agreed to settle this lawsuit against George’s.  George’s has been a valued corporate partner in the Shenandoah Valley and their purchase of the former Tyson’s facility came at a time when no other purchasers were available to rescue the plant from near-certain closure,” said Governor Bob McDonnell in a statement in response to the settlement.  The governor, along with Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), and Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging DOJ to drop the suit.

 

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