The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit to block the sale of a Tyson Foods Inc. plant in Harrisonburg, Va., to George's Inc., saying the deal could hurt competition for farmers in the area. The suit claims that the sale would reduce the number of poultry processors around Harrisonburg, giving farmers little choice when it came time to sign contracts to grow chickens, reports the Washington Post.

“America’s farmers deserve competitive prices and terms for the sale of their services, and the Antitrust Division will vigorously pursue anticompetitive acquisitions that stand in the way of achieving that goal,” Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney said in a statement.

Both companies issued a joint statement criticizing the suit. They said that the purchase will save jobs in the area and keep contract farmers in business.

“Tyson Foods’ sale to George’s for the price of $3 million saved an unprofitable poultry operation that was in danger of closing,” Donnie King, Tyson’s vice president of poultry and prepared foods, said in a statement. “Such a shutdown would have affected the lives of more than 500 employees and 121 contract growers, as well as local businesses that support and benefit from the poultry complex.” 

Source: Washington Post