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Antitrust regulators have filed a lawsuit to block the sale of a Tyson Foods Inc. plant in Harrisonburg, Va., arguing that the deal could hurt competition for farmers in the area, the Associated Press reports.
In its civil lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice claims the sale would reduce the number of poultry processors around Harrisonburg, giving farmers limited options when it came time to sign contracts to grow chickens.
Tyson announced the sale of the plant to poultry producer George's Inc. on March 18.
In a joint statement, the companies criticized the lawsuit and said the purchase will in fact 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 VP 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."