U.S. senator raises concerns about Sanderson Farms sale

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Commodities trader Cargill and agricultural investor Continental Grain announced the $4.53 billion deal for Sanderson, the third largest U.S. chicken producer, on Monday.

In a letter to the Justice Department dated Tuesday, Grassley said that combining Sanderson with Wayne Farms, a subsidiary of Continental Grain, would give the combined entity 15% of the U.S. chicken market.

“I am concerned that continued mergers and acquisitions in an already concentrated poultry industry will increase consolidation, frustrate competition and reduce marketing options,” he wrote. “I also am concerned about the impact on consumer choice and price of poultry products.”

Grassley urged the department to closely scrutinize the deal, noting recent indictments for price-fixing in the chicken industry.

Cargill and Continental Grain did not immediately respond to a request for comment.